Making it work
One of the things Microsoft strives to do is showcase efforts across the company where we are making progress advancing environmental sustainability while also recognizing where there is still work to do. One area where there’s a lot of great work happening is in the area of employee engagement.
As many organizations will attest, strong employee engagement programs can be a cornerstone for achieving long-term success and shared value. Keeping employees engaged, happy, and productive is a longstanding priority for Microsoft and is reflected in the recognition we’ve received, like the “Best Multinational Workplace in 2011.” But when it comes to harnessing the power of our employees and aligning their efforts with our corporate sustainability goals, I wanted to share what we are doing and also acknowledge that, like many sustainability projects, this is a work in progress.
With an eye on authenticity and lasting impact, we’ve laid out five steps that serve as a basic framework for our employee engagement programs and may even inspire work in your own organization.
- Increase awareness: For Microsoft, the road to successful engagement starts with increasing employee awareness around the company’s environmental commitments and the role employees can play in meeting those objectives. The ability to inspire employees can have an amplifying effect on both the company and the communities where people live. To spread awareness of Microsoft’s environmental activities, we leverage a myriad of communication vehicles, including internal and external websites highlighting our progress, quarterly newsletters, online sustainability training, and relevant signage in places like cafés where our robust recycling and composting program is hard at work. Another method of spreading awareness is through our quarterly Environmental Action Awards where we recognize our teams or employees who have shown leadership in the way our company, products, and/or services can make a difference for our customers, partners and society.
- Drive engagement: Microsoft has a number of “green teams” across the company that provides opportunities for employees who want to be more directly involved in the company’s sustainability work. Three of our more popular green teams are:
- MS Green – A grassroots community group that focuses on increasing the environmental awareness of employees and educating them about programs such as mass transit, energy conservation, organic farming, and other local resources.
- Sustainability Champions – This group focuses on increasing energy conservation and waste diversion (primarily in our buildings) through awareness building and educational programs. This group has established goals to reduce controllable energy consumption by 3-10% per building at the plug level.
- Environmental Sustainability Leads – This is a global community of environmental leaders who manage sustainability work in countries around the world where Microsoft has a significant presence. The ES Leads are primarily focused on reducing employee travel, driving energy efficiency improvements in local offices, engaging with customers and partners on the role of technology for environmental sustainability and for connecting with local policymakers to advance how Information Technology (IT) can enable a low carbon economy.