Business leaders repeatedly say that building a culture of environmental responsibility and sustainability within an organization depends in large part on employee engagement a culture of community. Some companies do it well – they recognize their employees for good work, make teamwork their focus, and foster connections. But others struggle.
Heather Younger, CEO of leadership development company Customer Fanatix, shared several intuitive laws of employee engagement during a workshop at the Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference. Dennis Hu of Ball Aerospace and Josh Scott with Colorado School of Public Health added insights. Here are a few:
Law #1. Supportive managers: A manager can make or break employee loyalty. The folks that write the checks, push the buttons, must stay engaged with employees. For example, Younger says, she and one of her team members were conducting an interview with a potential employee. When Younger asked if the interviewee had any questions, he turned to her team member and asked, “Why should I work here?” And the team member turned and pointed at Younger and said, “This woman here. Before she worked here, nobody cared. But she came in, visited with us, asked us how she could help us overcome our challenges. It made us feel cared for, made us feel connected.”
Law #2. Recognize employees often: People get a dose of dopamine when they get – and when they give – recognition. In fact, says Younger, 79% of people who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation. “Folks go where they’re appreciated,” she says. Employees need recognition every days in order to remember they’ve been recognized. That’s a lot of pressure for the manager, but if you make it easy to recognize them and recognize each other, the process is easier. For example, making it easy for customers to send in kudos to customer service or sales folks.
Dennis Hu, director of EHS and SSE for Ball Aerospace, chimes in: “We have something on our internal website called The Rock Wall (you know, we’re based in Colorado, we have a lot of rock climbers). It stands for “You Rock.” It’s an open source tool where any employee with a log-in can type in a “you rock” for someone. I can go and learn about people, learn about what we’re doing. Others can see how they and their fellow employees are being appreciated for good work.”
Law #3. Give them a voice: Employees feel valued and successful when they feel their voice is heard. Not only that, they feel like a vested member of the organizations when, at least, some of their voice leads to positive change. But make sure their voice is heard. “If you ask for surveys, for example, and then you never share the results, nothing changes, people start thinking, ‘This looks good, but it’s not real. Nobody cares, so we’re not going to participate.’”
How to Apply This to EHS & Sustainability, Specifically?
Managers don’t need to target any of these “laws” for those in the sustainability field. These are universal across all industries, according to Younger.
And are there different ways to communicate with different generations in a single team. “There’s been a lot of research happening now about whether there are different ways that different people communicate,” says Josh Scott, associate director of education for Colorado School of Public Health. “The answer is, it really doesn’t matter how you communicate. People want meaningful work.”
Stay tuned for more updates from #ELEMCON.