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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Employee Engagement

This is the first in a series of posts on the topic of employee engagement. It expands on my participation in a panel at BSR 09 a few weeks ago with Christopher Corpuel, Vice President, Sustainability at Hilton Hotels and Silvia Garrigo, Manager of Global Issues and Policy at Chevron. Silvia talked about engaging at the leadership level and Chris addressed integrating sustainability with the business. My focus was on engaging employees.

Deborah Fleischer at Triple Pundit - wrote a great overview of the session as did BSR. I have decided to try and capture my own thoughts while they are still relatively fresh in my mind.

But we should start with the question, why do any employee engagement at all? Employees are a key stakeholder group. They have the primary impact on the performance of the company in any particular corporate responsibility pillar and they have an impact through their actions outside of the workplace. The Green IT survey we did earlier this year identified that companies are able to lead the views or our employees towards a more positive approach to acting on climate change. So there is a rationale for companies to take action to engage employees on sustainability topics which they consider important – it makes a difference. The survey also identified that employees take more action at home than at work, so there is also room for improvement.

While I use carbon emissions and climate change primarily for examples, the steps apply equally to all pillars of corporate responsibility. And though I present them as a series of steps, in practice most examples I come across are implemented in parallel. Initiatives rarely start from a standing start and who wants to wait anyway! In three subsequent posts I will describe what I consider to be three stages to full employee engagement; leading from the top, generate momentum and harness momentum.

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