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Practical Models for Effective Employee Engagement in 
Support of Evolving Sustainability Agendas 
Susan Hunt Stevens, WeS...
Inspiring people to make sustainable 
choices. 
SB New Metrics - Sept. 24, 2014 
Practical Models for Effective 
Employee ...
About WeSpire 
A cloud-based engagement platform that 
global companies use to engage employees 
in sustainability and res...
Delivering Measurable Impact 
25 companies 
45 different countries 
2MM actions completed* 
$250 saved per employee 
*sinc...
Tangible impact and savings 
5 
Since July 2013, our customers have saved 
over $1M while reducing their 
environmental fo...
Dr. Stephanie Bertels 
Simon Fraser University, Canada 
stephanie_bertels@sfu.ca
The starting point: 
A systematic effort to understand how to embed sustainability 
http://nbs.net/wp-content/uploads/Exec...
What did we do? 
Identified the 179 
most relevant 
sources 
Located 13, 756 
academic articles, 
books, and 
practitioner...
Key Recommendation: 
Adopt a portfolio approach to embedding sustainability
Companies sought more guidance: 
How do the practices shift over time? 
Sustainability 
maturity 
time
Embedding Sustainability Working Group 
• 9 firms / 3 year study 
• Understand what they are doing 
• Understand the impac...
Goal: Develop an assessment tool
Develop scales to compare performance 
INTEGRATE INTO RISK: incorporate sustainability considerations into the organizatio...
Share best practices amongst members
Additional validation work 
with South African firms
Understand the sequencing of the practices
Identify practice pathways
Formal Practices to Advance
Formal Practices to Deliver on Commitments
Informal Practices to Deliver on Commitments
Informal Practices to Advance
Develop a maturity model 
Pathway Practice Not	Embedded Tactical 
Beginning	to	 
Embed 
Embedding Well	Embedded Transforma...
Current work: Assessing progress 
Engage in systematic efforts to assess the efficacy of 
particular practices. 
… this re...
Developing guidebooks 
Embedding Sustainability 
• through storytelling for 
sustainability 
• by leveraging interest and ...
Embedding Sustainability in the Employee Lifecycle 
Attract, Recruit, 
and Hire 
• Sustainability Values 
Onboard 
• Socia...
…think about your own company
Mission, Vision, Values 
To what extent do you make explicit statements 
about sustainability in communicating your 
organ...
Brand 
To what extent to you employ a brand to distinguish 
or highlight your sustainability programs and/or to 
different...
Attracting, Recruiting and Hiring for 
Sustainability Values 
To what extent do you include sustainability as an 
element ...
Onboarding 
To what extent do you incorporate sustainability 
training and socialization into a new employee’s 
onboarding...
Develop 
To what extent are an understanding of 
sustainability and sustainability related 
competencies like systems thin...
Listen 
To what extent does your organization have a culture 
of listening to employee ideas about sustainability? 
Do you...
Sustainability Roles 
To what extent have you established roles within the 
organization to capture sustainability 
respon...
Allocate to Senior Leaders 
To what extent do you allocate the responsibility for 
delivering on the sustainability agenda...
Personal Goals 
To what extent do you translate organizational 
sustainability goals and targets into employee 
responsibi...
Compensate 
To what extent do you link employee compensation 
to the achievement of set sustainability objectives?
Promote 
To what extent do you move people with sustainability 
values and skills into higher positions in the 
organizati...
Employee Wellbeing 
To what extent does the organization signal its 
commitment to employee wellbeing?
Link 
To what extent do you encourage employees to bring 
their personal sustainability behaviors to work or 
connect orga...
Leverage Interest 
To what extent do you encourage and support 
grassroots efforts and/or engage interested employees 
to ...
Invest in Communities 
To what extent does your organization contribute 
resources to the communities within which you 
op...
What next? 
-Reflect on where your organization could make quick 
gains and where more investment will be required 
-Plan ...
Watch this space …. 
www.embeddingproject.org 
Or contact me at: stephanie_bertels@sfu.ca
Q & A 
44 © 2014 CA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 
44
Thank you! 
45 © 2014 CA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 
45
www.SustainableBrands.com
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Practical Models for Effective Employee Engagement in Support of Evolving Sustainability Agendas

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The intersection of sustainability programs and employee engagement is a critical component of any company's sustainability or CSR agenda. So much work is being done and demanded at this intersection that we can confidently say it is one of the few hottest topics – if not THE hottest one – in the global Sustainable Brands community this year. This workshop will piece together a compilation of best-in-class approaches to effective employee engagement to date, highlighting practical conceptual frameworks, tools and case studies that are proving especially valuable.

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Practical Models for Effective Employee Engagement in Support of Evolving Sustainability Agendas

  1. 1. Practical Models for Effective Employee Engagement in Support of Evolving Sustainability Agendas Susan Hunt Stevens, WeSpire @huntstevens Stephanie Bertels, Network for Business Sustainability @sbertels Jason Jay, MIT Sloan School of Management @jasonjjay Zeynep Ton, The Good Jobs Strategy @zeynepton
  2. 2. Inspiring people to make sustainable choices. SB New Metrics - Sept. 24, 2014 Practical Models for Effective Employee Engagement in Support of Evolving Sustainability Agendas
  3. 3. About WeSpire A cloud-based engagement platform that global companies use to engage employees in sustainability and responsibility initiatives
  4. 4. Delivering Measurable Impact 25 companies 45 different countries 2MM actions completed* $250 saved per employee *since July 2013 4
  5. 5. Tangible impact and savings 5 Since July 2013, our customers have saved over $1M while reducing their environmental footprint waste energy water 100 Tons 3M Kwh 3.6M Gallons
  6. 6. Dr. Stephanie Bertels Simon Fraser University, Canada stephanie_bertels@sfu.ca
  7. 7. The starting point: A systematic effort to understand how to embed sustainability http://nbs.net/wp-content/uploads/Executive-Report-Sustainability-and-Corporate-Culture.pdf
  8. 8. What did we do? Identified the 179 most relevant sources Located 13, 756 academic articles, books, and practitioner reports Extracted 59 different practices to embed sustainability Developed the framework • What are they doing? • What are they trying to accomplish? • How are they going about it? • (With what degree of success?)
  9. 9. Key Recommendation: Adopt a portfolio approach to embedding sustainability
  10. 10. Companies sought more guidance: How do the practices shift over time? Sustainability maturity time
  11. 11. Embedding Sustainability Working Group • 9 firms / 3 year study • Understand what they are doing • Understand the impact on culture/climate • Develop practical tools
  12. 12. Goal: Develop an assessment tool
  13. 13. Develop scales to compare performance INTEGRATE INTO RISK: incorporate sustainability considerations into the organization’s risk process To what extent do you integrate sustainability into your risk assessment process? Select the most applicable option: 0: We do not yet integrate sustainability into our risk assessment process and/or our organization does not have a risk assessment process. 1: We know sustainability should be considered as part of our risk assessment process and are considering how we might integrate it into our risk assessment process. 2: We have started to assess sustainability related risks as part our risk assessment process, but they are largely limited to compliance based risks and generally only activated retroactively in the case of compliance failures. This work is mainly undertaken by a few key people in the organization. 3: We are beginning to integrate sustainability into our core risk assessment process. We’re rolling this out to the business units and some have developed an appreciation for the need to proactively factor sustainability into their internal risk assessment processes. 4: We have a well-developed system for integrating sustainability into our risk assessment process. We have sustainability expertise within our risk management group and we have an expanded risk matrix that factors in potential future risks due to changing societal expectations or shifting natural capital stocks. We take a long-term view in assessing sustainability risk. The business units have an appreciation for the need to proactively factor sustainability into their internal risk assessment processes and see the value in doing so. Questionnaire with 62 questions
  14. 14. Share best practices amongst members
  15. 15. Additional validation work with South African firms
  16. 16. Understand the sequencing of the practices
  17. 17. Identify practice pathways
  18. 18. Formal Practices to Advance
  19. 19. Formal Practices to Deliver on Commitments
  20. 20. Informal Practices to Deliver on Commitments
  21. 21. Informal Practices to Advance
  22. 22. Develop a maturity model Pathway Practice Not Embedded Tactical Beginning to Embed Embedding Well Embedded Transformational Envision Prioritize Sustainability Goals Strategy Ask employees Listen Review Root Causes Update Lifecycles Explore Pilot Internal knowledge Improve Operations Improve products & services Scan Benchmark Standards Feedback Expertise External Knowledge Frame Ask Leaders Prime Cultivate Champions Trigger Explain Look beyond Brand Share stories Mission-Vision-Values Self-regulate Commit Model Inform Follow-up Recognize Employee Wellbeing Communities Resolve Inconsistencies Link Leverage Interest Tackle Issues Recruit Onboard Train Sustainability roles Allocate to senior leaders Personal Goals Compensate Promote Business planning Risk Business Processes and Systems Policies Procedures Measure Information systems Analytics Report Verify Plan Improve Innovate Connect Outwards Engage Leaders Build Readiness Shape Identity Signal Demonstrate Develop Assign Integrate Assess Progress
  23. 23. Current work: Assessing progress Engage in systematic efforts to assess the efficacy of particular practices. … this requires pre and post measures
  24. 24. Developing guidebooks Embedding Sustainability • through storytelling for sustainability • by leveraging interest and cultivating champions • into the employee lifecycle • through context-based strategy making … and more
  25. 25. Embedding Sustainability in the Employee Lifecycle Attract, Recruit, and Hire • Sustainability Values Onboard • Socialize for Sustainability Develop • Thinking Manage Systemically •Goal Setting • Compensation • Promotion Engage Retirees • Community Volunteerism Foster Employee Wellbeing • Diversity • Income Equality •Employee Benefits
  26. 26. …think about your own company
  27. 27. Mission, Vision, Values To what extent do you make explicit statements about sustainability in communicating your organization’s mission, vision, values, and/or core purpose?
  28. 28. Brand To what extent to you employ a brand to distinguish or highlight your sustainability programs and/or to differentiate and communicate your sustainability vision to employees and others?
  29. 29. Attracting, Recruiting and Hiring for Sustainability Values To what extent do you include sustainability as an element of the recruitment process by promoting your organization’s sustainability commitments and/or by assessing a candidate’s sustainability values and/or competencies (such as interdisciplinary thinking or an understanding of lifecycles and systems)? To what extent are your HR team able to screen candidates for ‘fit’ on sustainability?
  30. 30. Onboarding To what extent do you incorporate sustainability training and socialization into a new employee’s onboarding process?
  31. 31. Develop To what extent are an understanding of sustainability and sustainability related competencies like systems thinking part of employee development?
  32. 32. Listen To what extent does your organization have a culture of listening to employee ideas about sustainability? Do you help emerging leaders to improve their listening skills?
  33. 33. Sustainability Roles To what extent have you established roles within the organization to capture sustainability responsibilities?
  34. 34. Allocate to Senior Leaders To what extent do you allocate the responsibility for delivering on the sustainability agenda to senior leaders?
  35. 35. Personal Goals To what extent do you translate organizational sustainability goals and targets into employee responsibilities and expectations?
  36. 36. Compensate To what extent do you link employee compensation to the achievement of set sustainability objectives?
  37. 37. Promote To what extent do you move people with sustainability values and skills into higher positions in the organization through incorporating sustainability criteria into decisions about advancement?
  38. 38. Employee Wellbeing To what extent does the organization signal its commitment to employee wellbeing?
  39. 39. Link To what extent do you encourage employees to bring their personal sustainability behaviors to work or connect organizational sustainability activities to their personal lives?
  40. 40. Leverage Interest To what extent do you encourage and support grassroots efforts and/or engage interested employees to identify and reconcile inconsistencies and help spread environmentally and socially responsible behaviours?
  41. 41. Invest in Communities To what extent does your organization contribute resources to the communities within which you operate and encourage and enable employees to do the same?
  42. 42. What next? -Reflect on where your organization could make quick gains and where more investment will be required -Plan for the investments needed to shift the culture across the organization -Consider engaging in a more systematic inventory of your efforts
  43. 43. Watch this space …. www.embeddingproject.org Or contact me at: stephanie_bertels@sfu.ca
  44. 44. Q & A 44 © 2014 CA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 44
  45. 45. Thank you! 45 © 2014 CA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 45
  46. 46. www.SustainableBrands.com

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