Rounding out the final afternoon of Sustainable Brands’ New Metrics ‘14, Susan Hunt Stevens, founder & CEO of WeSpire, led a candid, data-rich conversation with representatives from TD Bank, Intel and CA Technologies about their employee engagement programs.
“These three people are doing really amazing work not only in employee engagement, but more importantly, connecting employee engagement to broader business value and key HR metrics,” Stevens said.
She explained that WeSpire technology helps global companies engage their employees in sustainability and responsibility initiatives — she said WeSpire customers have saved over $1M while reducing their environmental footprint in waste, water and energy, since July 2013.
But the real win comes from more engaged employees and seeing that as a real value. She said that disengaged employees cost companies an estimated $450-550 billion in lost productivity. Looked at this way, sustainability isn’t just a department goal but a business driver of overall success. When employees get engaged at work with social and sustainability initiatives, you can measure the impact in overall productivity and results.
Starting off, Linda Qian, CSR Communications Manager at Intel, shared her company’s “cherries and pits” — successes and misses — experience with a global employee recycling program. This was one element of Intel’s overall program that offers options for employees at all stages of the sustainability continuum from “light green” to “dark green.” Notably, she said that Intel ties compensation to sustainability metrics. For this year, the bonus metric was tied to the global recycling rate.
The team picked recycling because it was a goal that everyone could contribute to by changing their behavior. The biggest learnings, or pits, came through a bumpy program rollout and unanticipated employee pushback. But the cherries, Qian said, were that, “The ability to engage all employees in a tangible way does have positive results. We did see an overall reduction in waste produced and increased recycling.”
Brad Peirce, VP of TD Environment at TD Bank, next shared that his company seeks to be “as green as our logo” with leadership in protecting critical forest habitats, greening the urban environment, and a commitment to climate action through renewable energy. In addition, the company believes that engaging employees in these issues helps attract talent, enhance the brand and increase productivity.
Peirce said the bank has found that employees were at different stages along the continuum of green, with some superstars such as an employee named Tim Little, whose passion for talking about TD’s environmental initiatives turns customers into advocates. The challenge was to engage more employees in this way. The solution was the online “Green Pledge Challenges” with seven simple, measureable actions.
To make it go viral through the company, they added game elements and enlisted the support of senior execs and middle management to report progress weekly by lines of business in a friendly competition.
In less than six weeks, 40 percent of bank employees took the Pledge and the number continues to increase.
“We learned a lot from our data about where employees need to do better and how to help them,” Pierce said. “The pledge became a proxy for us to understand our company better, and for employees to see through a different lens that their individual actions add up to collective impact.”
Finally, Andy Wu, Principal of the Office of Sustainability at CA Technologies, discussed how his company measures whether its sustainability programs and initiatives have a positive impact on employees.
In 2011, the company launched numerous employee engagement campaigns, including a Good to Green Game and video vignettes, a Green Teams pilot that expanded in 2012, and the CA Sustain program in 2012. It also added a question to the annual employee survey, asking whether CA Technologies demonstrates its commitment to global sustainability of the environment and our communities.
Over the past two years, the program’s results show increasing employee engagement towards the company’s sustainability commitments. Favorable responses on the 2013 employee survey have jumped from 76 percent to 84 percent. And survey results for Green Team locations were even better in 2012, showing an 89 percent favorable response versus 82 percent favorable for the company overall.
Going forward, Wu said CA Technologies is looking at ways to run studies and separate sustainability from other factors that employees care about. And he noted the partnership role that the Human Resources team plays, saying: “HR has been very helpful in identifying some of the issues we have and how sustainability aligns with retention and satisfaction.”