The Power of Your People: Why Employee Engagement Programs Are Essential to CSR Initiatives

This guest blog post is authored by Scott Tew, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency & Sustainability (CEES) at Ingersoll-Rand.

We’ve seen that our employees can teach us a lot about sustainability. In fact, many of their sustainable actions at home translate to, and thrive in, the workplace, further helping advance corporate engagement and sustainability efforts. By harnessing the motivating passion of employees and allowing them to work on projects near and dear to them, businesses are in a unique position to make corporate sustainability initiatives relevant to their staff’s day-to-day lives. Small, focused and passionate efforts made through employee engagement programs can make a big impact when viewed in the aggregate, highlighting the potential of these types of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

At Ingersoll-Rand, an industrial leader in creating comfortable, sustainable environments, we’ve seen great success in engaging our employees on CSR efforts with our Green Teams program. Green Teams are local Ingersoll-Rand employee volunteer groups green-monday-waco-2015_07_27_green-teamswith three goals: enable progress, measure progress and celebrate success. Established in 2011, our Green Team network consists of nearly 100 teams around the globe. This program has resulted in impactful, local projects globally. Domestically, we’ve seen a local Green Team entirely revamp the recycling program (signage, color-coding, bins, etc.) at our Charlotte Remanufacturing Center, which led to a 150 percent increase in recycling universal waste and e-waste in 2015. At Ingersoll-Rand’s Taicang plant in China, where the Green Team will have invested more than 10,000 volunteer hours in Hengli School by the end of 2016, employees are improving school facilities and working with teachers to introduce new teaching techniques.

Through internal collaboration and partnership with community groups, Green Teams have successfully advanced our sustainability objectives highlighted in our Climate Commitment, helping the company avoid 2 million metric tons of CO2, the equivalent to the electricity used in 270,000 homes for a year. Beyond reducing emissions, other climate change and environmental contributions have successfully:

  • Saved more than 80 billion BTUs of energy;
  • Saved nearly 6 million gallons of water; and
  • Avoided sending more than 6 million pounds of waste to landfills.

It’s important to help employees understand that their actions play an important role in meeting the company’s energy commitments. Therefore, we’ve instituted a system where employees can continuously self-report their progress in terms of personal actions, which allows the company to track and monitor total improvements made in energy efficiency and waste reduction. Not only does this demonstrate the tremendous impact of strong employee engagement on our greater CSR goals, it also inspires everyone to contribute more once they see the difference they’re making.

We believe that local, community efforts are key for making an impact on global sustainability initiatives and show us what companies can achieve with strong employee engagement programs. How are you unlocking the power and passion of your employees to work toward your CSR goals?

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