7 Ways to Unite Corporate Communications, Employee Engagement, and Sustainability


image: corporate miscommunicationsHow do employees really feel about corporate messages?  A recent CEB study shares the following:

  • Only ONE THIRD of the respondents reported that the information that they receive and/or find about their company across all sources is consistent or very consistent.
  • Almost TWO THIRDS of employees report that only about half or less of the communications/information they receive from their CEO/senior leadership is relevant to their role/team.  26.9 percent of respondents reported that less than 10 percent of the information they receive from this source is relevant.
  • Only 12.3 percent of participants reported that they found it very easy or easy to provide feedback/share their opinion with their company through the available channels.

Given communications challenges exist, complicate that with the disconnect between a corporate sustainability plan and how that vision filters down and is exercised in the day to day processes of an individual worker's life.  How do you pair corporate communications with employee engagement to make business sustainability work

Employees can make a difference in internalizing sustainability and translating high-level commitments into action and results in a corporate sustainability plan.  When you consider that daily, employees make far reaching decisions impacting an organization's environment and social consequences, there is the evidence that employee engagement matters and is a key component to accelerating sustainable business strategies.  

Building sustainability into the picture, it is important to ask, Where do employees rank among business sustainability stakeholders? Who is ultimately responsible for their engagement?  And how do they directly contribute to your business success? In an attempt to answer these questions, our sustainability consulting practice focuses its attention on the post, Employee Engagement: Why Do It If You Can’t Do it Right? which explores the relationship between engagement and company success.

“If you want employees to take a vested interest in the bigger picture, treat them like stakeholders… when jobs are regarded more like investments, employees will show up with passion, productivity, and focus, making your company more profitable”. -Paul Spiegelman, CEO of Beryl Companies

However, back to the messaging.  Apparently, people have to hear your message seven times before they remember it.  According to the post,  How Successful Employee Relations and Branding Are Similar: Repetition, "seven is a magic number when it comes to branding; people often need to hear your message that many times before they remember it."  How does this apply to employee engagement and a corporate sustainability plan?  There are different messaging types an organization can repeatedly share to engage employees with information and insights into a company’s business sustainability program.

  1. Cascade business sustainability strategies down through organizational and individual performance goals.
  2. Inform, motivate, and actively engaging employees in the company’s business sustainability programs.
  3. Provide ongoing education, training, and knowledge sharing opportunities.
  4. Integrate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) into the business processes, corporate performance, and employee recognition.
  5. Actively engaged with key stakeholders on sustainability issues, including employees to understand how sustainability issues are affecting the business.
  6. Perform transparent reporting on sustainability concepts and sensitive issues, with both positive and negative results.
  7. Link corporate sustainability to the local community in which employees participate and engage.

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.

(Repeat 7 times.)


Comments for 7 Ways to Unite Corporate Communications, Employee Engagement, and Sustainability

Name: Emile Bons
Time: Monday, January 28, 2013

If you wonder how you might integrate measures like employee engagement with the financial metrics, you might find yourself comfortable by combining these metrics in one dashboard by having employee engagement measured continuously.

Name: Brooking
Time: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

This is a great point that our sustainability team at SweetRush has been tracking as well - a huge gap in effective CSR/sustainability program implementation is in clear communication with employees and other stakeholders. Your article mentions the importance of education and training and communicating - but I'm left curious for a more detailed "how" - what kinds of training and communications are companies engaging in that actually work and get employees' attention enough to inspire engagement?

Name: Tracy Lloyd
Time: Monday, February 4, 2013

As an brand strategy agency that helps brands matter more to people, and with a focus on sustainability -- This seems to be the biggest presenting problem we hear from companies. I think you outline some great advise here.