« Back to Home Page

Sign up for the 3p daily dispatch:

Employee Engagement Around Sustainability–Survey Results from Brighter Planet

Scott Cooney | Friday February 12th, 2010 | 6 Comments

Brighter Planet, a company dedicated to the mitigation of climate change through personal action, is perhaps best known for its tools that help people quantify their personal carbon footprints. It also has a credit card that, with each purchase, contributes to renewable energy.

However, it is their research that excites me more than anything else. A lot of people are talking about employee engagement around sustainability initiatives right now. Brighter Planet just released a study on its findings from an internet survey it conducted, to which 1055 people responded. Big businesses can use it. Small businesses can use it. Employees are happier and more productive when they do. So let’s get to it, people, start engaging your employees around sustainability!

Employee engagement is a concept that is fairly well-known. Ford Motor Company did an employee engagement initiative around “quality” that led to its tagline, “Quality is Job 1.” Walmart had well-documented success engaging its employees around a Personal Sustainability Project where 1.3 million Walmart associates received training in sustainability and used it to improve their personal and work lives (not to mention increasing their productivity, decreasing their turnover, and improving morale at the company).

Walmart’s PSP engagement goes down as one of the most successful of all time, since it is the largest employer in the country, and the initiative, headed up by Adam Werbach and the fine folks at Saatchi & Saatchi S, still had almost half of the Walmart employees in ACTIVE participation with Saatchi a full year after the trainings. But what do we really know about it? It’s one of those touchy-feely subjects best left to HR professionals, right?

The report is brilliantly written, so I’ll let it do the talking for a bit here:

A Gallup study estimates that more than $300 billion in productivity is squandered within the U.S. workforce due to disengaged employees. Furthermore, the same Gallup study indicates that organizations with an engaged workforce have 2.6 times the earnings per share growth rate compared to organizations in the same industry with a less-engaged workforce. Sustainability programs serve as an important part of organizations’ broader strategies for activating and engaging employees. In a survey commissioned by National Geographic magazine in February 2008, more than 80% of U.S. workers polled said they believe it is important to work for a company or organization that makes the environment a top priority. However, a recent McKinsey survey shows that, while business leaders and investors believe that sustainability programs can generate substantial shareholder value, they rarely take this into account when making business investments.

Among the report’s more surprising findings:

  • 75% of respondents said their office actively promotes recycling (pleasant surprise)
  • slightly more than 50% of respondents said their office encourages energy efficiency (surprised it’s not more, since it’s a great ROI)
  • Among those companies whose employees rated their sustainability initiatives as good, those initiatives were started internally, by management or employees, and not by outside consultants (I’m only surprised because I used to work at Saatchi S, where we were hired as outside consultants, and paid large sums of money to do so–so I’d assumed it was more successful that way)
  • Only 14% of respondents said their employers’ sustainability initiatives were ‘very effective’ (unpleasant surprise)
  • The more an employer had a system for employees to share ideas and best practices, the more likely that initiative was to succeed, almost 3 to 1.
  • Organizations in which there is a main sustainability figurehead (Chief Sustainability Officer, for example) leading the initiative were 1/3 as likely to have successful initiatives than companies where management or the board had the lead role

Among the report’s less surprising findings:

  • Respondents’ impression of their company’s sustainability initiative success was higher in smaller companies

To download the full report, visit www.BrighterPlanet.com.

Scott Cooney is the co-founder of GreenBusinessVillage.com, a green business incubator and small business consulting firm based in San Francisco and Philadelphia. He is also the author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill)


▼▼▼      6 Comments     ▼▼▼

Newsletter Signup
  • http://brighterplanet.com/publications Matt (Brighter Planet)

    Thanks for posting, Scott! In case anybody is wondering, the full report can be found on our publications page: http://brighterplanet.com/publications

  • http://www.facebook.com/ajkaras Jason Karas

    Take a look at carbonrally.com for a great example of employee engagement driven by friendly team competition.

  • http://www.greennurture.com/ Derrick Mains

    My company focuses on this exact situation and has created a software platform to engage employees in corporate sustainability giving them a voice in their company and rewards through a partnership with Recyclebank.

  • ryanmahagas

    Great information, helpful

    The easiest and fastest way for people to start making money are paid online surveys.The good thing is that you don't need any skills.You can start work now and to make your first $30 in several hours.The main problem is that most of these survey sites are scams.I spend more than 3 months to find legitimate survey site.And I found only one that is legitimate and absolutely free to join.So if you are serious about making money at home, just follow this link and create a simple registration.

    http://AdvancedSurveys.info

  • ryanmahagas

    Great information, helpful

    The easiest and fastest way for people to start making money are paid online surveys.The good thing is that you don't need any skills.You can start work now and to make your first $30 in several hours.The main problem is that most of these survey sites are scams.I spend more than 3 months to find legitimate survey site.And I found only one that is legitimate and absolutely free to join.So if you are serious about making money at home, just follow this link and create a simple registration.

    http://AdvancedSurveys.info

  • Pingback: » Faites de vos employés des acteurs du développement durable local (Compte rendu de conférence)()

  • Pingback: Company Bonuses Determined By Green Actions | CloudApps.com()

  • Pingback: Biogas from Cow Power Helps Small College Cut Carbon Emissions()

  • Phil

    If you are interested in this subject, take a look at the CloudApps Employee Engagement Module, known as SuMo (Sustainability Momentum. http://www.cloudapps.com It connects the sustainability efforts of employees on the front-line, or “bottom-up”, with “top-down” commitments made by management and is very interesting.

  • Pingback: 3 Emerging Trends in Employee Engagement()

  • Pingback: Company Bonuses Determined By Green Actions - CloudApps()

  • Pingback: Company Bonuses Determined By Green Actions - CloudApps()