Employee engagement has been a growing focus for years, with companies large and small building programs in an effort to inspire employees and drive productivity. In fact, 74 percent of people say their job is more fulfilling when they are given opportunities to make a positive impact at work. More recently, there has been an increased desire from employees for engagement that’s focused on sustainability.
At Keurig Green Mountain, we’ve long understood that empowering our employees to promote positive change in the places where we do business around the world not only helps them feel fulfilled and connected to our business, but also helps drive our mission to Brew a Better World. In our recently released 2016 Sustainability Report, we provided an update on our goal to engage 100 percent of our employees to understand our vision and values and present opportunities that allow them to contribute to our targets. In our fiscal 2016, 70 percent of our employees participated in one of our sustainability programs.
At the heart of our strategy to meet this goal is our volunteer program, Community Action for Employees (CAFE). CAFE gives every full-time Keurig employee up to 52 paid volunteer hours annually. Last year, our employees volunteered over 56,000 hours to a wide range of activities, such as cleaning up rivers and distributing food at food banks. 55 percent of our total workforce participated in one of these volunteer programs, while the average rate of participation in paid employee volunteer programs at other companies is around 30 percent.
Another unique program that enables our employees to make meaningful contributions to our business is our annual employee source trips. Since 1992, we’ve been taking employees to the places where it all begins: coffee farms around the world. From Costa Rica to Brazil, we offer employees the opportunity to understand the full impact of our business, seeing firsthand where our coffee comes from and gaining a deeper connection to the people who are involved at the earliest stages of our supply chain. More than 500 of our employees – from all functions, geographies and levels of the company – have taken part in the program in the past two decades.
While no two employee engagement programs are the same, here are a few key lessons we’ve learned while embedding our sustainability programs and opportunities into our employee engagement strategy:
1. Hire with values in mind.
Social responsibility is the cornerstone of our company and our employees know that by heart. Over the years, our values and goals have been developed with input from employees across our organization. Who we hire and the programs we offer are based on our core values, which reflect the values our employees bring to work with them every day. Through programs like our employee source trips, our employees experience our values in action and develop a deeper passion about the work we do together. They, in turn, are motivated to continue brewing transformation throughout our business and the communities where we work and play.
2. Offer opportunities to explore individual passions.
We allow our employees free rein to choose where to use their CAFE time throughout the year. While we offer company-wide volunteer activities like our annual river cleanups, we encourage employees to serve their communities in ways that are most meaningful to them. While one employee may volunteer with their local school board, another may sort produce at a food bank. We encourage their passion to be in the driver’s seat.
3. Extend sustainability beyond the CSR department.
Sustainability should not be reserved for employees tasked with it in their job description. Every department in your company, from marketing to finance, can be involved in making positive environmental and social change. Giving employees in all departments the opportunity to make a difference on the job and in the community, such as offering all employees paid hours for volunteerism, will create ripple effects throughout your organization.
At Keurig Green Mountain, we have a lot of experience engaging employees in our commitment to building resilient supply chains, sustainable products and thriving communities. As sustainability continues to become more essential for successful business, I’m excited to see how other companies tap into their unique cultures to design their own programs.