Workforce for Good: Employee Engagement in Sustainability/CSR – Use Multiple Channels of Communication

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Workforce for Good: Employee Engagement in Sustainability/CSR – Use Multiple Channels of Communication

Workforce for Good Blog Series Part 7
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#WorkforceforGood @ppsolutionsllc @mrochte tell you why to use multiple channels of communication Employee engagmnt

Multimedia from this Release

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 9:00am

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 7 of Workforce for Good: Use Multiple Channels of Communication

This is the thing. I can sit in this office and come up with phenomenal ideas about sustainability all day long but it is in the translation of getting it out to the people—that’s where the rubber meets the road.” -Carter Hanson, Patrick Cudahy

The companies we interviewed use a breadth of communication tools and media both online and offline to raise the visibility and awareness of their sustainability initiatives with their employees. Through consistent communication, employees learn about what the sustainability/CSR program is about, how they can participate, and why they should get involved. Typically, companies further along in their sustainability programs use greater numbers of channels of communication. These are the most common types of communication vehicles used in our sample:

  • Posted signage everywhere (bulletin boards, video screens, paper cups, printers, charts on the production floor, etc.)
  • Training/Education
  • Management Meetings (where a success story is highlighted, for example)
  • Earth Day and other high profile events
  • Volunteer Day
  • Online via intranet, social media, blogs, etc. (This may only be effective in office settings, if the employees know about it and use it.)
  • Newsletters
  • Sustainability/CSR Reports
  • Corporate Sustainability/CSR websites
  • Lunch and Learns

Consider the audience and provide a good mix of communication. For example, not all employees work behind a computer screen. Where do your employees actually work? How do they learn? Humana raises the bar on considering the audience. During the month of November, their CSR month, they actively engage in a two-way dialogue; they ask their employees how they want to be engaged in CSR. 

To make communication personal, Frito-Lay Beloit’s newsletter connected the personal issue of taxes increasing by two percent to energy savings at home.  Lisa Carroll, the Environmental Coordinator at Frito-Lay, communicates with all the plant employees about sustainability in numerous ways. One way is through their internal newsletter. As we interviewed Lisa in January of 2013 the income tax for the average worker went up approximately two percent due to cessation of the stimulus tax credit. She found a way to make sustainability personal and relevant by helping employees counterbalance that income loss. The topic of her December newsletter was on compensating at home for the tax increase by finding ways to decrease one’s personal energy bill (for example: turning off lights, switching to CLFs, and insulating water heaters).

To make their sustainability messages stick, Jones Lang LaSalle has branded their sustainability employee engagement program internally. Chuck Kelly, Sr Vice President of Jones Lang LaSalle shared, “one of things that we’ve done is we have tried to brand this ACT [A Cleaner Tomorrow] program visually, so that it just becomes sort of second nature to people. So we have the leaf branding. You’ll see it on coffee cups; you’ll see it on signage that we have by the light switches in our conference room . . . It says, ‘Stop, look at me; think about what you’re doing.’ You’ll see that same sign by our light switches in all of our conference rooms to remind people to turn off lights. We put it by monitors at desks to remind people to turn off their monitors when they go home for the night. We put it on copiers as a reminder for people when they go to the copier, [so they’ll think], ‘Do you really have to print this? If you really do, can you print it double-sided?  Do you really need to print that in color?’ So it’s just all these messages that we have put out over the years. And the thought is that the first time somebody sees the leaf they say, ‘What is that?’ Then after that, it’s a trigger: ‘Oh yeah, ACT, that means sustainability, I’ve got to stop and think about what I’m doing’. We hope the red leaf makes all the messages stick.”

Next Week:  Principle 8 of Workforce for Good: Measure & Track Progress

For more information or to download the full whitepaper click here