Workforce for Good: Employee Engagement in Sustainability/CSR – Manage Their Engagement

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Workforce for Good: Employee Engagement in Sustainability/CSR – Manage Their Engagement

Workforce for Good Blog Series Part 3
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Getting the most from #employeeenegagement: Manage their engagement #WorkforceforGood @ppsolutionsllc @mrochte #CSR

Multimedia from this Release

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 9:35am

Employee engagement is one of the toughest and often most perplexing elements of sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts.  Two leading Midwest sustainability/CSR experts, Matthew Rochte and Jocelyn Azada, set out to find just what were companies doing to successfully engage employees in sustainability/CSR.  They share their findings in the whitepaper Workforce for Good™ and in this 3BLmedia series on employee engagement.


Principle 3 of Workforce for Good: Manage Their Engagement

While employee engagement in sustainability/CSR is a challenging issue for many companies, the level of difficulty also depends on who their target audience is. You have “a pocket of people,” says Catherine McGlown, of Humana, who are truly passionate about CSR and sustainability and easily adopt and engage in it.

The next layer of people may not be passionate, but are interested. They are the target audience for most employee engagement efforts.

Then, there is the last category of people who are not passionate, nor particularly interested. An often missed element of employee engagement is employee management. This sentiment was addressed by so many of our interviewees, but none quite so concisely as Carter Hanson, who said, “Never forget: people do the work that you tell them to do . . . It’s their job!”

If it is important to the company, make it important to the job.

This is where managers can significantly impact employee engagement.

Through their daily interactions with employees, managers drive sustainability/CSR throughout their organizations by managing, coaching, and inspiring front-line employees daily, on a person-to-person basis.

One of the things managers and leaders tend to forget is that employees watch and listen to what their leaders say and do. They look for integrity and alignment. The most powerful message comes from managers whose actions demonstrate the company’s commitment to sustainability. “They pay attention to what you pay attention to as the leader,” says Tom Collins, Director of Capital Planning and Portfolio Management at MillerCoors.

Tom Collins continued, “The biggest takeaway [we’ve learned about engaging employees] was being able to communicate to employees what needed to get done and why it was important. Once that was done, they went to work to figure out how to do it. We get lost in technology or technique and forget about the human aspect of it. . . . For example, SABMiller’s breweries in South America which we visited were very good at taking metrics by the operators at the point of control. When a filler operator charts the metrics we’re interested in, it gives the opportunity for a leader—the person’s direct supervisor or plant manager—to have a conversation with the filler operator right on the floor about what’s important for our goals as they are talking about what’s on the chart. This non-verbal communication that what you’re doing is really important . . . it’s magical . . . It seems so obvious and simple, and it is so subtle and mysterious. In my opinion, it is the key driving activity that improves the entire process.”

Managers have a rich opportunity to translate to employees how their actions contribute to the fulfillment of corporate and individual employee goals. Regular feedback and open communication provide a touch-point for managers to seriously inquire and engage with their people.  Day-to-day contact gives them a chance to ask, “What’s important here?” or “What’s going on here?” from a place of curiosity rather than accusation. This shows an employee:  “My manager is truly interested in what I am doing, and, what I am doing matters.


Next Week:  Principle 4 of Workforce for Good: Give Opportunities for Employee Innovation and Leadership

For more information or to download the full whitepaper, go to

Keywords: Social Impact & Volunteering | Carter Hanson | Catherine McGlown | Employee Engagement | Humana | Jocelyn Azada | Management | Matthew Rochte | MillerCoors. | Patrick Cudahy | Responsible Business & Employee Engagement