You can never talk too much about employee engagement and CSR. With good reason. Engaged employees are happy employees and that's good for the bottom line. How companies engage employees varies widely, but there's one key to making it successful. You have to make it about them.
No matter how much we like to think that employees will be excited about company initiatives, their actions will lack passion and commitment if there's nothing in it for them. That's why your efforts to engage employees must be meaningful to them, not just to the company.
Here are 5 examples of how companies are successfully engaging their employees:
Provide clear direction about where you're going and how your employees can help you get there. At Stonyfield, their Mission Action Plan involves employees in setting and achieving environmental goals that are aligned with the company's mission. A portion of employee compensation is linked to achieving objectives. The program has led to a gentler environmental footprint and millions of dollars in savings for the company.
Everyone wants to know when they've done a good job. The Mars Inc. Make a Difference Award Program recognizes associates who "put our principles into action and bring innovative thinking, fresh perspectives and personal commitment to improve our communities, our environment, our workplace and our business." The Planet Awards recognize outstanding contribution to Mars' activities that positively impact the environment.
To feel involved and included, employees need to get to know more than just the people on their team. At Seventh Generation, the Vibe team coordinates social and community-building events for employees. Something as simple as informal weekday social events on the company's green roof deck gives employees the opportunity to "walk away from their workstations, engage in conversations across the company, and watch the sun set over Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains".
Motorola's iWork program helps employees arrange flexible work schedules and locations that fit their lives. In their words, "this program helps us to retain valued employees, attract and recruit talent, increase employee productivity and reduce costs. It also provides greater access to employees with the right skills to solve particular business problems no matter where they are located."
Leadership, from the CEO right down to team leaders, is critical for successfully engaging employees. Walk your talk and employees will follow. In 2002, almost 2/3 of Campbell Soup Company employees felt they were not actively engaged in the company. By 2010, that number had flipped with more than 2/3 feeling actively engaged. What changed? Leadership. They had a new CEO, replaced more than 80% of leaders within 3 years, and implemented "ability to inspire trust" as the number one criterion for evaluating managers. Add the Campbell Promise of "Campbell valuing people, people valuing Campbell" and annual employee surveys to ensure they were on track, and you have a stellar example of how to turn around a disengaged workforce.
There are plenty of other ways to engage employees. But no matter what you do, if you make it all about them they're likely to return the favor.
Do you have examples of companies with amazing employee engagement? Share them with us in the comments!