Employees & sustainability: Are we having fun yet?

Yesterday’s Ernst & Young and GreenBiz report highlighted six trends in corporate sustainability. One of these trends is the “emergence” of employees as a key audience.

In fact, employees are now seen as the second-most important “drivers” of company sustainability initiatives, trailing only customers. That means that employees rank higher than other stakeholder groups like shareholders, policymakers, NGOs, analysts, and suppliers. Why?

While the tools and techniques for employee engagement vary widely, the benefits are consistently described by these companies. Most importantly, they enhance employee attraction and retention, improve operational efficiencies, strengthen customer relations, increase innovation and strengthen community ties.

Interestingly, employees are also seen as the second-most important stakeholder audience of sustainability reports (again, behind only customers). Employees can become effective “cheerleaders,” say the authors, by sharing the company’s sustainability gospel “with their families, friends and neighbors, as well as with customers and suppliers.”

In both cases – sustainability initiatives and reporting – I think there is definitely room to amplify employee engagement. The report mentions activities like “Earth Day fairs” and rewarding employees for their green ideas. But this strikes me as just a starting point.

There are ways to better leverage the power of games, storytelling, and fun (yes, fun!) to mobilize and energize employees – initiatives that build awareness, inspire teams, and give employees a stake.

We’ll be discussing some examples in a bit. In the meantime, you can download the Ernst & Young & GreenBiz Six Growing Trends in Corporate Sustainability Report.

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