Connecting the dots between stakeholder engagement and social responsibility is no longer the "wave of the future." It's what companies need to be doing now to get ahead. Aligning your employees around a common cause that transcends generational divides, gender and ethnicity is a sure-fire way to spark a sense of purpose and belonging. When your employees feel educated, inspired and empowered around the company's commitment to social responsibility, sustainability and citizenship, the real magic starts to happen.
Sounds great but where is the magic? Which sustainability concepts relate to both an employee as well as a corporate sustainability plan? Let's look at energy efficiency. Employee engagement is an effective, but possibly underutilized strategy for improving energy efficiency. In fact, energy efficiency can be a gateway to broader business innovation and engage stakeholders in extended process evaluations. There’s support for this as well. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), "Energy efficiency offers a powerful and cost-effective tool for achieving a sustainable energy future. Improvements in energy efficiency can reduce the need for investment in energy infrastructure, cut fuel costs, increase competitiveness and improve consumer welfare. Environmental benefits can also be achieved by the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions and local air pollution.”
As such, leading organizations like IBM, AT&T are becoming increasing aware the cost savings and long-term benefits associated with implementing sustainable changes in their organization. Managing and planning a company’s operations to reduce environmental impacts can result in reductions in resource consumption, emissions, and waste streams. Smaller organizations can capitalize on energy efficiency improvements without making large capital investments. Employee engagement is an effective, but possibly underutilized strategy for improving energy efficiency. Suggestions made in our eco friendly training include:
- Establishing a baseline of consumption for benchmarking efforts.
- Create an energy policy for the business.
- Using your consumption information, you may want to identify areas of improvement.
- Implement behavior and usage modifications. Measure and monitor your progress.
- Communicate your success and appreciation to employees for taking eco action.
Tying corporate sustainability initiatives to day to day processes makes CSR more personable to an employee and helps employees to identify their role in corporate responsibility. Additionally, energy efficient programs educate and inform workers of best practices in reducing energy consumption that can be applied at home and in the community expanding eco awareness and sustainability concepts from the workplace into the community for even greater energy savings.
Julie Urlaub is the Founder and Managing Partner of Taiga Company and author of The Business Sustainability Handbook. Her popular award winning blog, engaged Twitter following of 53,000+, and her large, loyal following on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+ has garnered her recognition as one of the top resources and thought leaders in social media engagement for sustainability. She has been recognized as Twitter’s 10th most influential sustainability voice in America by The Guardian and #25 Top EcoInfluencer on Twitter by Corporate Knights Magazine.