Engaged employees = more effective corporate social responsibility

One tenet of successful corporate social responsibility programs is getting employees AND top management involved. Two reports provide tips on how businesses can get staff more engaged.

Channeling the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States, I wanted to point out two resources that are intended to help companies get their employees more engaged in their corporate social responsibility and sustainability programs.

In short, these guides are intended to help businesses get every member of their teams -- from top to bottom -- feeling more inclined to consider people and the planet just as much as they consider corporate profits.

The first report, "Making Environmental Employee Engagement Happen," was published by the United Nations Environment Program Financial Initiative (UNEP FI), and focuses on how different financial services companies are tackling this challenge. The report uses best practices that have emerged from Standard Charter Bank, Citigroup and The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, among others. The British environmental consulting and behavior change organization, Global Action Plan, contributed to the published information.

Approximately 69 percent of the companies that were part of the research beyond the report believe that employee engagement is valuable for improving sustainability. This also hinges on management buy-in, though. If top managers are involved, employee engagement is much higher.

Probably not surprising on either count.

Here are the top five things that will get employees motivated, according to the report:

  1. Support from top management
  2. A link between environmental action and a person's day-to-day job
  3. An internal climate that encourages employees to be involved with project development
  4. A structure that introduces a competitive element to environmental initiatives
  5. Effective internal communications

Another report on employee engagement best practices hit my inbox the same week as the UNEP FI information. The guide, called Green the Team, comes from brand marketing and development company BBMG.

Said BBMG founding partner Mitch Baranowski:

"It may seem counterintuitive, but an austere economic climate is a good time to invest in creating and maintaining a sustainable workforce. With younger employees increasingly committed to sustainability as a way of life, organizations that invest in such engagement programs will enjoy better recruitment, higher retention and higher morale."

BBMG believes that companies can improve productivity across the entire organization by getting employees engaged with environmental and social causes that they can feel good about.

The "Green the Team" booklet draws on the firm's experience working on sustainability programs at Walmart, as well as interviews and information from Intel, Echoing Green, Net Impact and the National Environmental Education Foundation.

"Green the Team" includes the themes listed above, along with these two other suggestions:

  1. Be willing to share successes and lessons across the organization, for quicker adoption of programs and fewer repeat mistakes
  2. Help employees overcome hurdles such as limited resources or the lack of in-house expertise

The end of the year is the perfect time to get new resolutions started. Could your organization's employee engagement use a nudge?

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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