Making the Business Case for Workplace Environmentalism

EarthShare has released new research for the corporate sector about how lack of environmental purpose at work affects the bottom line, and what to do about it
Jun 25, 2019 10:00 AM ET

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2019 /3BL Media/ — EarthShare and partners today released a special report for the corporate sector, The New Business Imperative: Employees Turn Environmental Action into a Workplace Necessity. In the first research of its kind to specifically focus on the environment as an employee engagement driver, results indicate that if companies are to meet employee expectations for corporate environmental efforts – as well as reap the associated benefits – they have significant work ahead of them.

The costs of low employee engagement are already well documented, and environmental issues consistently rank among the top-three most important causes for Americans. Yet, in this study the vast majority of Fortune 1000 employees rate their company’s commitment to addressing environmental issues as suboptimal. Additionally, corporate decision-makers appear unaware of the magnitude of this expectation gap.

This study indicates that roughly half of Fortune 1000 employees view the ability to make an environmental impact as an expected work benefit, ranking it higher than paid family and medical leave.

Environmental issues are relevant to every business and can easily be turned into employee involvement opportunities – the universal “sweet spot” of corporate social responsibility. The report presents three key findings about what employees expect now, accompanied by corporate case studies from Danone North America, AT&T and Caesars Entertainment, and recommendations for employers to consider as they integrate environmental purpose at the workplace:

  1. It’s no longer enough to offer volunteer opportunities. Employees still expect company-organized volunteer activities – but they are more interested in the following two points now:
  2. Employers need to offer purposeful work. Employees consider finding a sense of purpose through their everyday work very important, and bringing a sense of societal mission into today’s workplace appears to be a necessity.
  3. Employers need to take a stand. Employees are no longer checking their personal views at the workplace door.

The report also examines who is and is not pushing the environmental imperative at the workplace. While the study indicates that the desire for corporate environmentalism cuts across demographics and circumstances, not all employees share the same degree of interest. This research divides employees into three groups – Environmental Leaders, Environmental Leaners, and Environmental Laggards -- and discusses how to identify and meet them where they are.

The study further suggests that when companies provide employees opportunities to impact the environment through work and make a public stand for the environment, they strengthen recruitment, engagement, productivity, and retention for the majority of employees, and, thus, their bottom line.

For this report, with funding provided by Wells Fargo, EarthShare partnered with the research firm Povaddo, which conducted an online survey of U.S.-based employees at Fortune 1000 companies with annual revenues of at least $1 billion. The employee sample was drawn from a panel organized by the market data firm Dynata (formerly Research Now), which deeply profiled more than 11 million individuals. The report can be downloaded for free from EarthShare’s website.

Other White Paper Partners:

About EarthShare:
For more than 30 years, EarthShare has worked across industries and issues to protect the health of our planet by engaging workplaces and people as active participants in that mission. With the power of a nationwide environmental network behind us, we help people and workplace partners create transformational impact to care for the home we all share.

About Purposeful Strategies: Purposeful Strategies is a values-centric consultancy founded on the principle that business can be a force for good and that customers and employees are more loyal to brands that are aligned with their values.

About VeraWorks: VeraWorks is a global consulting firm that helps managers and companies offer employees the opportunity to do societal good through their everyday jobs and measure the business impact. "Job purposing," as this management practice is called, heightens employee engagement, performance and wellbeing.