Fueling a Culture of Sustainability: Using Behavior Design Technology to HR's Benefit

Capturing the attention and passion of employees from the very start of the on-boarding experience is incredibly challenging, but when you layer on the fact that most organizations already face serious employee engagement and culture issues, the task becomes gargantuan.

Solving the Problem

To help solve for this, leading organizations are turning to cutting-edge behavior design technologies to provide comprehensive and accessible systems to engage employees in positive impact initiatives such as sustainability, volunteering, health & wellness, and more. This was the topic of our recent WeSpire webinar, “Fueling a Culture of Sustainability: Using Behavior Design Technology to HR’s Benefit,” which aired on Tuesday, August 11 at 1:00-2:00pm EDT.

During the webinar, attendees heard from experts on the topic, including Renee Lertzman, engagement strategist and author, Susan Hunt Stevens, founder and CEO of WeSpire, and Katie Ryan, senior manager of sustainability at NRG. Our experts discussed the theory behind engagement, supporting research, design framework, best practices, and lessons learned. By specifically using sustainability-focused programs as a building block and amplification tool for corporate initiatives,

The Framework

The webinar began with Renee opening the conversation by defining what engagement means and looks like and what questions you should begin asking when strategizing for your employee engagement program. She encouraged every attendee to reflect on questions such as:

What does success look like? How do you think about your community, employees, and people?

To help conceptualize these reflective questions, Renee walked the audience through her framework, a 4 quadrant visual that maps the underlying philosophy of engagement theory. From the perspective of an academic, Renee explained that human insight is formed from cultural and behavioral triggers, technology/systems, and emotions and experience. As Renee finished her section, she stressed the importance of empowering employees to contribute to the organization

  • socially
  • organizationally
  • emotionally
  • behaviorally
  • cognitively.

The Research

To continue on with the discussion, Susan explored the behavioral science side of engagement and discussed how program design connects to the two main drivers of engagement that WeSpire’s research has found: purpose and relationships. In June 2015, WeSpire released a report called “The Evolution of Employee Engagement” that analyzed how employees perceive their organization and existing engagement programs. The research revealed that the three main factors that contribute to an employee’s engagement include: great managers, program transparency, and employee choice & collaboration.

With this research foundation, Susan walked the audience through the methodology WeSpire uses to engage employees in positive actions in the workplace, such as saving electricity:

Culture of Sustainability

The Practice

To wrap up the journey for our webinar, Katie introduced NRG’s long-term sustainability vision and gave insight into the organization’s strategy to engage employees in sustainability broadly. With the strong support of their CEO, NRG created inspireMEnrg, their own version of the WeSpire platform that engages employees in positive actions such as reducing their carbon footprint, green commuting, and water conservation, to name a few.

By sharing her organization’s story, Katie left the audience with a leading example of what engagement “looks like” at NRG and demonstrated how the organization uses sustainability-focused programs as a building block and amplification tool for corporate initiatives. Katie revealed lessons learned, what has worked so far, and plans to deeper integrate inspireMEnrg with existing HR programs moving forward. As a whole, NRG is a great example of an organization that has put a great deal of effort and resources to embed sustainability deeply into their culture, strategy, and vision.


Looking for more? Don’t worry! Even though the webinar has passed, you can still watch a full recording and follow along with our slide deck. Take a look and if you have any questions feel free to email us and start a conversation at