“The suggestions from building occupants can get pretty overwhelming – how can I be responsive, as you recommend, when we can’t address everything immediately?”
We say it a lot as an explanation of what we do; “we help companies accelerate their corporate sustainability efforts via employee engagement.”
But how exactly does employee engagement accelerate sustainability?
We talk to a lot of sustainability leads and it’s not unusual to hear them say that they feel isolated. As the only one advocating for conservation, the lead may feel no one else really “gets” the many ways sustainability leads to profitability. Too often, sustainability professionals are seen as separate and distinct from the primary functions of the organization, they do not have a seat at the table, and they feel isolated or that they are perceived as “policing.”
While the US government scales back its response to climate change, businesses are taking the lead in reducing resource use, cutting emissions and eliminating landfill waste. There are nearly constant headlines about the efforts of big companies—from Apple’s efforts to transition from newly mined minerals to recycling used components to Unilever’s overall leadership that helps it attract and retain talent—examples abound.
In a few weeks, several Cool Choices staff will attend the annual Behavior, Energy and Climate Change (BECC) conference. This will be my ninth time attending the annual BECC conference and I look forward to this event every year because for me, BECC is reinforcing, challenging and inspirational.
Over the course of the sustainability programs we implement with our corporate partners we always solicit employee suggestions—ideas for reducing waste and increasing efficiency at these companies.
We get a lot of ideas; in a typical program, participants submit hundreds of suggestions associated with saving energy, water and fuel while also reducing landfill waste.
Recently we analyzed the ideas we received from all of our 2016 programs to look for patterns and lessons learned as a resource for sustainability leaders. The full results are available in our “Employee Perspectives on Sustainability” white paper.
Cool Choices is excited to announce that this fall we will be leading a county-wide sustainability program in Waukesha County. Thousands of Waukesha County residents will have the opportunity to join teams with colleagues and friends to show off their smart habits and compete for prizes—all while saving money at home and at work by adopting sustainable practices.
Congratulations to Kohler Co. on their first Cool Choices employee engagement program!
Kohler is an industry leader in kitchen and bathroom products, engines and generators, decorative products and hospitality services. Founded in 1873 and headquartered in Kohler, Wisconsin, the innovative company is a household name with more than 50 manufacturing locations on six continents, and more than 35,000 associates dedicated to providing a sense of gracious living to every corner of the world.
In July 2017 more than 500 Kohler associates across multiple divisions in Wisconsin participated in a six-week Cool Choices program where associates earned points for their sustainable practices at work and home.
Employee engagement is a hot topic in HR circles. Experts estimate that up to 70% of US workers are not engaged at work and, further, that this disengagement costs companies about $500 billion annually. Disengaged employees are more likely to provide poor customer service, they are more prone to accidents, more likely to take sick days and they are less productive. So it’s no wonder that human resource teams are concerned about measuring and increasing engagement. At the same time, some sustainability leaders inside companies are struggling too. Facing aggressive year-after-year goals, these folks are wondering where they will get the next round of savings. Sustainability leads need fresh ideas and, ultimately, all hands on deck to generate savings.
It’s time for some creative cross-functional collaboration. A coalition, if you will.