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Organizational Change
Employee Engagement Key to Successful Sustainability Program

A recent report released by financial services firm Jones Lang LaSalle claims companies that implement successful sustainability initiatives solicit employee participation and recommends organizing the engagement process into three phases: raising awareness, building engagement and maintaining commitment.

The first phase involves educating employees on important sustainability issues and linking them to the overall business strategy. UK residential property firm Grainger hosted a half-day seminar for 10 percent of its employees that discussed the company’s efforts at resilience in the face of potential adverse housing trends. In a post-event survey, 100 percent of participants reported they would like to continue to contribute to the development of the company’s CSR strategy and to attend similar future events.

In phase two, companies must focus on building engagement, which includes identifying sustainability “champions” to motivate employees to connect with the program vision and goals, while adopting sustainable behavior that leads to action. Companies also should educate employees about the difference their actions are making and how they can influence the future of the sustainability program.

Bank of America’s My Environment program, which began as a simple way to educate employees on environmental topics, has transformed into an action-oriented global community dedicated to helping the company meet its sustainability goals. Within two years of its inception, the initiative grew to include 12,000 active employee participants in 26 countries.

Scaling up projects and developing long-term sustainability commitments characterize phase three: Companies must develop applicable and repeatable processes and put in place best practice and innovative idea-sharing tools to foster engagement and develop long-term commitment for sustainable actions.

After launching its global Green Team program, CA Technologies reduced its paper consumption in Paris by 10.5 percent and measured its waste stream in Sydney to raise the percentage of recycling and reuse to between 85 to 90 percent of overall waste.

Through implementing these steps, the report says companies will build employee-driven momentum that can take their sustainability programs to a new level.

Recent months have seen a steady stream of reports analyzing sustainability best practices. In March, the Retail Industry Leaders Association released its 2013 Retail Sustainability Report, which highlights progress towards the industry’s evolving sustainability objectives and identifies a class of top-performing characteristics.


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