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Employee Engagement & Sustainability

When looking for opportunities for efficiency improvement, it is not only beneficial to look at your product’s supply chain. You would do well to also look at your employees. Labor is often the largest assets a business has. And yet, think about this:

In Gallup’s 2013 “State of the American Workplace” report, of the 25 million people interviewed (which is roughly 1/5 of the 2013 workforce), Gallup found that over 70 percent of all employees are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.” Think for a moment of your own workforce, and picture your employees or fellow workers: 3 out of every 4 of them are disengaged, some actively so.

So what makes these employees feel disengaged or actively disengaged from their work? It is often due to a lack of purpose in their positions and the fact that their work may not align with their values or desire to make a difference. On the other hand, employees who feel they can make an impact on social and environmental issues while on the job are twice as satisfied with work as those who don’t.

If you are a business owner, you are paying your workers a base pay for a base level of work. You are not asking them to innovate, you are asking them to perform a task. Imagine, however, if you asked them to use their passions, their brains and their drive, giving them the ability to make an impact on social and/or environmental issues: not only would you find your workers twice as likely to be engaged, you would most likely be approached with new innovative ideas that could drive profit margins in your company.

Sustainability not only engages employees’ hearts and minds by connecting to their values but also their hands by allowing them to put these values into action and contribute to something larger than themselves. Providing employees the chance to suggest and implement sustainability improvements – such as a recycling initiative or employee volunteer program – inspires a sense of purpose. Organizations benefit from improved efficiency and brand value from better integration of sustainable practices, and employees turn values into action and bring new energy back to their daily tasks.

Not only is a purpose-driven, happy workforce a vital element of a sustainably-minded organization, integrating sustainability is one of the most effective ways to engage employees.

What do you think? Are you engaged in the workplace? Would sustainability help you get there?