Workforce for Good: Employee Engagement in Sustainability/CSR – Recognize and Celebrate

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Workforce for Good: Employee Engagement in Sustainability/CSR – Recognize and Celebrate

Workforce for Good Blog Series Part 9
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 9:10am

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, Jocelyn Azada and Matthew Rochte, 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 9 of Workforce for Good: Recognize and Celebrate

Celebrating success and recognizing individual and collective efforts for a job well done are hallmarks of our sample companies.

Many of our companies distinguish themselves as best-in-class organizations and are recognized externally for their leadership in their own industries as well as in sustainability and corporate social responsibility. These company-wide accomplishments benchmark performance, are a point of pride, and reinforce a culture of corporate excellence.

Similarly, internal recognition is something individuals can take personal pride in. It shows employees that their effort and conscientiousness are valued contributions to corporate success. Just as importantly, recognition initiatives provide a mechanism for companies to systematically seek out, identify, and point to outstanding examples of sustainability/CSR behaviors and practices among their employees. Individually and corporately, recognition can be a tool for improving performance and valuing people.

Recognition of employees can take multiple forms, both tangible and intangible. Many of our companies reported their success stories in company newsletters, sustainability reports, and other media—in effect, telling their sustainability story through employees who bring their values and platform to life. MillerCoors recognizes employees every month for “being great and responsible” and features them in posters and stories across the business. At the manufacturing companies that we interviewed, employees are commended visibly for their actions with their names, and sometimes their photos, on TV screens and bulletin boards at the plants. Patrick Cudahy calls these “High Five” awards. Brady Corporation collects examples of sustainability excellence, shares them and asks employees to vote on their favorite ones, further encouraging employee engagement.

Recognition plays a meaningful and important role at McDonald’s. There are established, highly valued awards at every level within the organization, recognizing restaurant managers, owner operators and corporate staff for excellence in a very public and tangible way. In the area of sustainability, McDonald’s has employed this practice of recognition, along with two more aspects of its corporate culture—being both entrepreneurial and family-oriented—to fuel competitions to strive for ideas to move the business forward.  As a company that always asks how they can do better tomorrow, McDonald’s has applied this mindset to recognizing “Planet Champions” in different areas of the world and to recognizing “Energy All Stars” in the US.  Using the frame of a competition with the biennial “Best of Green,” employees come up with ideas for increasing energy efficiency or decreasing waste in restaurants, for example. The best ideas are recognized and the employees behind those ideas are held up as role models within the organization and given a monetary award. In the US, green teams in the corporate office and in some regional offices sponsor competitions with teams of five people who collect points based on actions they take to minimize their environmental footprint at home and at work.

Frito-Lay provides a wonderful convergence of individual and collective recognition. In 2012, Frito-Lay’s Beloit plant received a national award from the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Excellence Award. One of 11 recipients across the country, they were recognized for their reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Lisa Carroll, environmental coordinator, took two employees with her to Washington, D.C. who were involved in the efforts, to receive that award. A frequent winner of city, state and national awards for sustainability performance, Frito-Lay Beloit makes it a practice for employees who are instrumental in award-winning efforts to receive the awards on behalf of the company.

Next Week:  Concluding Thoughts of Workforce for Good

For more information or to download the full whitepaper click here

Keywords: Social Impact & Volunteering | Brady Corporation | Employee Engagement | Frito-Lay North America | Jocelyn Azada | Lisa Carroll | Matthew Rochte | McDonalds | MillerCoors | Workforce for good | celebrate