Archive for the ‘CSR’ Category

Are you engaged?

In a recent study of nearly 30,000 employees around the world, Right Management concluded that commitment to an employer’s core values is the top driver of employee engagement. If that’s the case, it would seem that companies who adopt and promote CSR within an organization are on the right track.

But beyond values, there are numerous reasons for employee engagement. Right Management identified five:

  1. I am committed to my organization’s core values
  2. Our customers think highly of our products and services
  3. My opinions count
  4. I have a clear understanding of what is expected of me at work
  5. I understand how I can contribute to meeting the needs of our customers

Read: Sharing an Employer’s Core Values is Leading Driver to Boost Employee Engagement (Press Release dated 10.30.09)

But in what is probably the most well-known indicator, Gallup outlined 12 key elements (known as the Gallup Q12, below) designed to measure just how engaged employees really are.

* Do you know what is expected of you at work?
* Do you have the materials and equipment you need to do your work right?
* At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
* In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
* Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
* Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
* At work, do your opinions seem to count?
* Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
* Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
* Do you have a best friend at work?
* In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
* In the last year, have you had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

But what does all this mean?

Exact definitions of employee engagement vary slightly, but the basic idea is that it is the willingness to exert discretionary effort to help a company reach its goals. Engaged employees care about their employer and want to do their best to help that employer succeed. And they are willing to go beyond immediate job key_employeeTypesrequirements to do so.

In fact, analysis has revealed that those with high Q12 scores exhibit lower turnover, higher sales, better productivity, better customer loyalty and superior job performance. It’s no wonder, then, that employee engagement has been closely linked to an organization’s higher shareholder value, solid business results, and positive corporate culture.

Unfortunately, engaged employees are hard to come by; by most estimates, they represent less than 30% of the workforce. I’m curious to know, are you engaged?

(Photo Credit: Gallup)


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In an article also written this week, and as a follow-up to her post I cited a couple days ago, Deborah Fleischer explored why and how employee engagement and CSR can and should be integrated to benefit an organization’s bottom line.

The theory is if you can get employees engaged and excited about being greener in their personal lives, they will bring this excitement and energy to their jobs as well.

To this end, AngelPoints and Saatchi & Saatchi S have launched a new software tool to help companies increase and subsequently measure Slide21-300x225sustainability engagement among employees.

The new online Personal Sustainability Project (PSP) tool charts individual and team progress in a number of “green” areas by focusing on (1) creating project goals and commitment; (2) tracking progress and impact; and (3) measuring end results.

Read: Deborah Fleischer on Employee Engagement: AngelPoints and Saatchi S Launch New PSP Tool for TriplePundit (10.27.09)

Thankfully, this article also addresses the important questions you may be asking, such as: Who cares? Why should a company be so concerned about whether its employees are actively engaged in sustainability initiatives?

Employee engagement is a key driver for increasing employee retention, attracting the best and brightest talent, fostering innovation and capturing cost savings from efficiency. However, to capture these benefits, there is growing pressure on companies to get their employees thinking about sustainability and incorporating it into their daily jobs.

This summary makes it sound relatively easy, but employee engagement is actually a very complex, and challenging, issue for internal communicators. In fact, I am currently enrolled in a semester-long course dedicated to the subject of internal engagement (and will be blogging about it quite a bit in the coming days).

Slide12-650x487But in the meantime, the AngelPoints PSP model (at left) shows that motivated employees can ultimately affect improved business performance and inspire a corporate culture of sustainability. In case you’re not convinced, this general progression is supported by research conducted by consulting powerhouses Watson Wyatt and Towers Perrin (among others).

I’m optimistic that an online PSP tool will encourage employees to connect with one another in support of their company’s CSR strategy. Given the adoption of online communications tools in other areas of organizations, this seems like a natural progression. A bonus? Accountability. Always a good thing.

(Photo Credits: AngelPoints)

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According to the say-do matrix (Roger D’Aprix, Communicating for Change), it’s not enough for a company to think green; it must also learn to speak green. This, of course, is the hard part.

Just last week, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)—one of the world’s leaders in corporate social responsibility consulting and research—hosted its 2009 conference in San Francisco. On this year’s agenda? Internal Communications: Making the Case for CSR’s Value.

Read: Deborah Fleischer on BSR 2009: Top Strategies for Getting Employees Behind Sustainability for TriplePundit (10.26.09)

In her article, Fleischer recaps the session and outlines several expert recommendations for promoting CSR within an organization. Key themes include: getting senior management support, getting employees more engaged at work, and making the case for CSR as a good business practice.

To increase employee engagement, Kevin Moss from BT Americas offered roughly these three strategies:

  1. Demonstrate commitment. Get senior leaders behind the initiatives and outline clear policies and procedures to show that the company is truly committed to achieving certain targets.
  2. Empower employees. Make sure employees have the support and occasion to engage in the company’s CSR initiatives. Even something as simple as providing recycling bins can help employees see that they are contributing. Opportunities to submit sustainable ideas or take action at home also increase engagement.
  3. Harness the momentum. Create a line of sight so individual employees can see the impact they are having on the company’s bottom line and the environment. It is important for employees to know that they have the ability to make a difference.

Also useful, I thought, was the complete list of best practices and strategies that came out of the author’s breakout session with Moss. A few highlights:

  • Create a council where employees come together to share resources and ideas;
  • Create more defined strategies—for example, BT America is focused on climate change, digital inclusion and disaster relief;
  • Give stores/facilities latitude to do what they want—for example, Best Buy gives stores only broad, general guidelines. Not as much consistency, but you harness what individuals care about;
  • Build sustainability metrics into performance objectives;
  • Link volunteer hours and community engagement to sustainability priorities;
  • Recognize employees by making a monetary donation to employees’ charity of choice; and
  • Engage employees in their personal lives (i.e. Pfizer It Begins With Me and Wal-Mart Personal Sustainability Projects).

But even when it comes to noble CSR initiatives, a number of challenges exist for organizations to increase engagement and tap into employees’ willingness to exert discretionary effort. Successful organizations will be those who take the time to carefully craft an internal communications plan around a thoughtfully-constructed CSR strategy. This includes taking into consideration current corporate culture, employee sentiments, and existing internal communications structure. Good luck!

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Last month, Newsweek published its inaugural “Green Rankings”—a list of the 500 most environmentally-responsible U.S.-based companies. Environmental data is admittedly hard to collect and compare across vastly green-recycle-imgdifferent industries (obviously the carbon footprint of an oil company will be greater than that of a consulting firm). But Newsweek did its best to acknowledge efforts to improve environmental policies, performance, and reputation by assigning each company an industry-adjusted “Green Score.”

I was expecting to see General Electric at the top of the list, mostly as a result of its Ecomagination campaign. Not surprisingly, GE’s reputation survey score came in at 2nd, behind only Walmart. But I was surprised and, if I’m being honest, a little pleased to see that GE was ranked only 82nd overall and a mere 261st for its green policies and performance. Apparently, and thankfully, Newsweek based a company’s total Green Score on more than expensive above-the-line marketing and Wizard-of-Oz-themed Superbowl ads. If external communications can’t secure a more enviable spot in the Green Rankings, what can?

Well, lots of things, obviously. Low carbon emissions, energy efficiency, and waste reduction, to name a few. But beyond that, how “green” can a company truly become if it doesn’t expend effort on its internal communications?

In mid-October, Ethical Corporation published a four-part series on social media and sustainability (you can get a free two-week subscription to read the full article text). The first part supported the argument for using social media to engage with stakeholders on sustainability issues. Based on the bottom-up origins of both movements, the integration of the two seems only natural.

The second article in the series dealt with the growth of social networking, the new tools that continue to evolve and expand, and the best way to harness social networking to promote corporate sustainability and responsibility.

The next section tackled the ongoing debate over who owns social media. Is it a PR function? Does it belong to marketing ? Or, in this case, maybe the corporate social responsibility (CSR) department, if there is one, should take over. The reality is that social media is present throughout an organization and every employee, regardless of job description, should be called upon to be active in the movement.

The fourth and final section is what got my attention with this underlying premise: when it comes to CSR, employee engagement is not a novelty, it is a necessity.

Most companies now recognize the business value and good karma that results from CSR, but the challenge remains to integrate it into corporate culture and make it a part of every employee’s experience. This happens to be the topic of my next post, so stay tuned!

(Photo credit: Wired.com)

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