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Employee experience and sustainability

Supporting Environmental Causes and Sustainability Is a Key Part of EX

Technologies Can Ease Efforts and Track Success, While Playing an Important Role in Recruiting and Retention

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Employees and job seekers have a long, diverse, and growing list of attributes they want their current or future employer to have.

The pandemic has resulted in many workers reviewing how closely an organization’s purposes and goals align with their own personal beliefs. The same can be applied to consumers, who are increasingly seeking out sustainable brands.

As companies investigate how to differentiate themselves for employee recruitment and retention, many are looking for ways to improve upon and bring visibility to their environmental and social efforts. Research is demonstrating that Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) is a reason to either leave a company, or potentially not join one. Seventy percent of respondents in research from Oracle said they would leave their current company to work for one that takes ESG more seriously. Meanwhile, 83% said that they would work for companies that acted on ESG.

Wespire’s 2021 State of Employee Engagement Report saw strong gains in prosocial employee reward interests specifically around charitable giving and sustainability. Respondents ranked money put toward donations to nonprofits as the second most important incentive, followed by credits for fitness and wellbeing, and money put towards sustainability efforts, like home or vehicle upgrades, and carbon offsets. Additionally, when WeSpire collected this data in 2019, it showed millennials and Gen Z workers preferred educational opportunities and sustainability upgrades more than older generations. The 2021 data reported incentives were consistent across age, indicating a universal shift towards these types of rewards.

According to research from Salesforce, employees are very willing to be part of the solution. Salesforce data reported over 8 in 10 global workers want to help their company operate sustainably and 3 in 5 would like to incorporate sustainability into their current roles. However, there is a lack of confidence in their own company reaching their sustainability goals, with even less employees having faith in “most companies.”

Source: Salesforce

Some challenges identified in the research include a lack of training, difficult to understand reporting, and an employee knowledge gap on awareness of sustainability commitments and climate goals.

Technologies that can help with these challenges are part of the larger employee experience (EX) ecosystem. While still a bit of a niche within the larger EX category, there are many options employers can turn to, such as:

  • Communication tools, especially those that can inform on company efforts, provide nudges for employees’ own actions, and be tied into educational efforts
  • Community building solutions that will bring employees together to problem solve, share success, and organize initiatives
  • ESG reporting software

EX solution provider WeSpire provides a variety of tools for this segment. The company offers a sustainability module that uses behavioral science to provide motivation, education, and action for employee behavior change, not just in the office, but also at home. In practice, companies can choose from among hundreds of pre-made templates to easily create campaigns and content specific to their initiatives. For instance, a state-operated utility worked with WeSpire to become a more sustainable organization, using WeSpire technology to help support initiatives around refuse single use, green community, and zero waste. Using the platform for a four weeklong Refuse Single Use Challenge allowed the utility to track the actions and results from particular campaigns all in one place. Employees could also view their progress, as well as their colleagues. 

The company also has an Employee Carbon Management solution that provides on-demand data and reporting tools to measure employee carbon footprint at home or in the office. It suggests actions to take to reduce their carbon emissions and balance unavoidable emissions and provides a level of transparency into a company’s progress toward Net Zero and sustainability goals.  

Benevity, a provider of corporate purpose software, offers a tool that helps shape behavior using micro-actions. These help motivate employees through gamified, easily accomplishable activities.

Source: Benevity

Climate Club is a business that recently came out of stealth mode and has also raised $6.5 million in seed funding. The company has launched a solution that can create and help organizations put a sustainability program into action. It can help companies track and report on carbon reduction efforts around business travel, commuting, work from home, and events and conferences. Additionally, the solution can also employee ideas about how to make sustainability improvements. Bain and Meta are both piloting the solution.

It is a big ask for employers to be able to meet each and every hope and desire of their employees. However, good faith efforts must be made, or employers risk high churn or the inability to recruit. Investigating solutions to create, support, and report on sustainabilty efforts will be an important effort to take.

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