Companies that engage their employees fully in sustainability efforts see the greatest impact, including on profitability

What began a few decades ago with employees collecting scrap paper and aluminium cans for recycling and reminders to turn off lights in empty conference rooms has evolved into corporate sustainability programmes that cover everything from recycling plastic to renovating schools.

As corporations moved from being more environmentally friendly, through green to sustainable, they have done more to include employees in their efforts. With sustainability evolving to include public service, more companies have started to encourage their employees to volunteer in their own communities or around the world.

In the GreenBiz Group Employee Engagement survey conducted in March 2014, 87% of respondents from large companies said environmental and social issues were more connected than they were five years earlier, and 94% said these issues would become even more connected in the future. Seventy-three percent also responded that their company was educating employees company-wide about corporate sustainability goals.

The survey results showed that organisations with “advanced” programmes now see the efforts to green their supply chains and harness sustainability more strategically – as sources of competitive advantage.

It’s hard to think of any negative aspects of employee engagement programmes, says Kathrin Winkler, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer for IT storage hardware solutions...

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