Where’d the Employee Engagement Go?

In the report on our first annual survey and interview project, The Business of Sustainability, we noted that 56 percent of corporate executives and managers selected “employee interest in sustainability” as an issue having “a significant impact on their company.” Separately, our thought leader group cited “enhanced recruitment, retention, and engagement … as major benefits of addressing sustainability.”

Our report was published last fall; the survey was conducted last spring. We should be seeing some great numbers on the employee engagement front by now, right?

Brighter Planet’s recently published Employee Engagement Survey however, found that fewer than 15 percent of respondents “said their employer had an employee sustainability engagement policy.” While they report “a heartening 75 percent of respondents said their employer actively promotes recycling,” this response sums up many an employee’s view of their employer’s sustainability efforts:

“As far as I am concerned, besides the recycling bin in the cafeteria areas and the recycling bin next to the printers, there is nothing being done.”

The report shows that employees aren’t happy with their employer’s engagement efforts, but the good news is that they want to be. “Over 60 percent of respondents want to learn more about their employers’ and co-workers’ sustainability efforts.”

Is the lack of engagement collateral damage of the financial crisis? Back in October we reported that “fewer than 25 percent of survey respondents said that their company had decreased its commitment to sustainability during the downturn.” A new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, however, finds: “Thirty-four percent of respondents say that their firms’ immediate financial goals are a more pressing priority than sustainability.”

For more on our analysis on , see our report The Business of Sustainability.

[Hat tip to Environmental Leader, where we first read about the Brighter Planet and EIU reports.]