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Creativity & Social Innovation

Employee Engagement Helps Drive Business


It is often said that a company’s most valuable asset is its employees. Internal champions charged with embedding sustainability into their company’s culture know this to be true: Ask anyone who’s led corporate environmental or social responsibility initiatives, and they will tell you that employees can make or break any sustainability program. The success of other aspects of the business – from internal innovation to customer satisfaction – can also hinge on how well a company engages its employees.

The good thing is that when employees are meaningfully engaged – and by this, we mean more than the “free food-free gym membership-free massages” model of engagement practiced by some companies – employees and their employers can reap substantial rewards.

Beyond improving employee recruitment, retention, morale and wellness, engaging employees can also benefit business’ bottom lines, as numerous reports reveal.

Boosting creativity

Adobe is one company that fosters a culture of sustainability as a way to connect its employees to its product and purpose. As a company whose products enable people around the world to cultivate creativity, collaborate and conserve resources, Adobe engages its employees to practice what the company preaches.
“This is the era of unprecedented creativity – there are more opportunities now for everybody to think creatively,” said Vince Digneo, sustainability strategist for corporate responsibility at Adobe. “People use our tools to generate creative solutions. We also enable people to become more sustainable through the use of our products.”

That is the case for Adobe’s customers as much as it is for its employees. When the company noticed that almost half of its entire carbon footprint was due to employee travel, it decided to get creative. It launched its Skip a Trip program, which invites employees to use its conferencing solution, Adobe Connect, to meet virtually with clients and colleagues instead of traveling hundreds or thousands of miles away.

In 2014, the Skip a Trip initiative saved 331 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. Over 711,000 miles of air travel was also avoided, the equivalent of traveling around the world 29 times and saving over 37,000 gallons of gasoline. The company also recently partnered with TerraPass, so when employees do travel they can offset their carbon emissions and Adobe will pay for half.

“Skip a Trip has allowed us to inform employees about how we can use our products to be more sustainable,” said Kim Kerry- Tyerman, senior program manager of corporate responsibility at Adobe. “Every employee wants to feel good about where they work. We offer something for everyone – that’s how we’re driving culture of involvement and innovation.”

Other products, such as Acrobat Document Cloud (DC), enable employees -- and customers -- to sign forms electronically, store documents in the cloud and avoid ever having to print precious paper. According to Digneo, 31.2 million e-signatures were facilitated by Acrobat DC in 2014 alone, eliminating millions of pounds of waste, not to mention water and energy use.

Enhancing customer satisfaction

Employee engagement is good for customer service, too. According to a 2011 Harvard Business School study conducted for Caesars Entertainment, there’s a strong link between employees’ level of engagement in sustainability activities at work, and customer loyalty and satisfaction.

The Harvard study revealed that the more Caesars Entertainment employees were engaged with the company’s workplace sustainability and volunteer program, called CodeGreen, the more Caesars customers were willing to return to its hotels or casinos.

According to the study, involvement in sustainability efforts to reduce water, energy and waste motivated employees and helped improve the company's customer service – therefore creating a positive customer experience that bodes well for the business.

These examples demonstrate that, time and time again, employee engagement is good for business. It helps employees think outside the box, innovate and delight customers. How does your business engage its employees around sustainability?

Image courtesy of Adobe

Nayelli Gonzalez headshotNayelli Gonzalez

Nayelli is the Founder & CEO of CreatorsCircle, a resource hub that connects diverse youth with opportunities to create a life of purpose and impact. A trained journalist with an MBA, she also keeps the pulse on sustainable business and social impact trends and has covered these topics for a variety of publications over the past 15 years. She’s a systems thinker who loves to learn, share knowledge and help others connect the dots. 

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