By Gwen Migita, VP Sustainability & Community Affairs
Companies wishing to take their social and environmental efforts to the next level often view consumer engagement as the holy grail of corporate sustainability efforts. Businesses, large and small, use a variety of tools and tactics – from product packaging to advertisements and in-store messaging – to get consumers’ eyes on their CSR agendas. At Caesars Entertainment, we have found that the best way to engage our customers in our sustainability journey is by engaging our most valuable asset: our employees.
A forthcoming study conducted by Harvard Business School and commissioned by Caesars Entertainment found that customer loyalty and satisfaction – that is, customers' willingness to return to one of our hotels or casinos and their overall experience – is directly linked to employees’ level of participation in sustainable activities at work.
As part of our company’s CodeGreen strategy, we invite employees at all levels of the organization to reduce water, energy and waste consumption at Caesars’ 52 locations, as well as connect with their communities in meaningful ways. CodeGreen not only serves as an employee engagement platform, but we’ve seen that it also enhances guests’ experience at Caesars properties and provides an opportunity for Caesars to distinguish our company as a true corporate citizen.
Employees across our global properties are engaging in a range of CodeGreen activities that are creating healthier, cleaner communities around the world, and this activity is having a positive effect on our customer loyalty and satisfaction. For example, employees at Harrah's Rincon Casino & Resort in California, which boasts a 40 percent employee participation rate in CodeGreen, contributed more than $141,000 and donated more than 19,000 hours of their time to charitable causes in 2012. Employees there also participate in CodeGreen At Home, a program that gives employees the option of submitting conservation projects they have implemented at home and qualify for credits redeemable for travel, events, and merchandise.
To increase awareness of their various efforts, Harrah's Rincon employees created a CodeGreen wall on the casino floor that educates guests about the casino’s various sustainability initiatives. When customers at this property were informed of employees’ activities – through casino walls or word of mouth – their view of Caesars was positively influenced and they were more likely to believe that Caesars has a positive impact on the environment and community.
Employee community involvement efforts at Harrah’s New Orleans had a similar impact. In 2012, employees contributed over 4,000 volunteer hours in 2012, valued at $84,000, and the property donated more than $5 million in mandated and voluntary giving to local nonprofit groups. Even more, employees helped renovate and restore the city’s historic Fulton Street, distributed 200 energy efficiency kits comprised of compact fluorescent light bulbs, draft stoppers and outlet gaskets to help low-income families increase their home energy efficiency long term, as well as joined forces with Rebuilding Together, an organization that rehabilitates homes for low-income homeowners, to conduct eco-friendly home training sessions for residents. The above-mentioned Harvard Business School research on CodeGreen found that this community involvement program also increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Of course, this positive impact on customers' perception of Caesars holds true only when customers are satisfied with the overall service provided. At Caesars, we know that sustainability initiatives such as CodeGreen can only be drivers for customer loyalty and satisfaction given great customer service. That’s why we’re proud of our employees and – as part of our corporate code of commitment – we are committed to treat them with respect and provide satisfying career opportunities. Happy employees mean happy customers. And happy customers mean a happy business.
As the lead executive for Sustainability at Caesars Entertainment, Gwen Migita drives the development of Caesars industry leading and award winning sustainability strategy, CodeGreen. She directs an enterprise-wide CodeGreen Steering Committee and serves as the corporate leader of thirty property CodeGreen Teams. Gwen also manages external relationships and stakeholder strategies for Caesars environmental programs. In her capacity as Community Engagement leader, Gwen directs corporate charitable giving, community relations, and HERO employee volunteer policies for the organization’s 70,000 employees at 56 domestic and international resorts. In 2011, Caesars Entertainment contributed over $12 million to philanthropic causes while employees reported 126,000 volunteer hours in local communities. She also manages Community Affairs for the privately funded Caesars Foundation.