23 Ideas for Your Green Team this Earth Month

A valued WeSpire customer made a special request recently.

In addition to her “day job” directing Sustainability at a Fortune 200 energy conglomerate, she organizes a volunteer group of “Green Ambassadors” from around the organization, many of whom have arrived via acquisitions of the past few years, and who do not know each other well.

It’s hard to think of something fresh for our meetings every month,” she said. “I want to keep them inspired with interesting things they can do that somehow relate back to the company.”

Could we help? Of course we can! We love a challenge, so we came up with almost two dozen ideas, which we share with you now, with a call for your thoughts and projects: What works at your organization, in your community, with your group?

1. You know best your colleagues’ appetite for climate-science/big picture vs. individual impacts, cool products, and daily actions that contribute to a positive impact. We prefer a balance. Smart first step: ask the group to complete a quick assessment survey, and see where everyone comes out.

2. With that, you can also poll the group to find out how they first became interested in the Green Ambassador group. Encourage them to share the story of their own original interest in sustainability.

3. With permission, or anonymously, share the most interesting stories in a post for the group. There will be interesting stories, we promise. They may also be painful or slightly embarrassing, so please remember to be sensitive and respectful.

4. Are people willing to relate their stories on a monthly Green Team meeting, in-person, call or webinar? Even better. Gently encourage quieter members to talk about their “green journey.” As individuals get to know one another, they’ll want to collaborate more.

5. Find out if people have a favorite art installation, data visualization, designer, book, film, building, lipstick, running shoe, or cartoon relating to the environment. Share these. (See 14, ahead.)

6. You do not have to direct all of this yourself. If a natural leader for a theme or activity surfaces, delegate! Good: now you are building a team!

7. Dive into the most popular blogs relating to sustainability. Offer your favorites and ask others for theirs. You’ll all get fresh ideas and data. Do not know where to begin? Maybe start here or here. (Then look at 18, below.) If your group has an appetite for news, some of you can choose a topic, lead a conversation, and create action items for the group.

8. If people enjoy this, call it “Pass the Mike,” and ask small groups on the Green Team to lead the monthly discussion.

9. Now you can create a calendar for the next twelve meetings! Why is that a good thing? First, you’re planning ahead and sharing the program. Second, you’re able to assign tasks and share the load (see 5, above). Third, you can be strategic.

10. If your corporation has stated goals for the year, incorporate them on your Green Team program. Everyone likes to know where they’re headed.

11. Continuing education: Scout local or online classes that relate to corporate goals and individuals’ interests. Some corporations offer a vetted selection.

12. If group members are participating in a training, course, or certification, organize a study group to discuss and get even more from the experience. Including, undoubtedly, more ideas for the larger group.

13. You probably have a bunch of new Green Team group members by now! Decide among yourselves if “Green Team” is the best name. Order some cool swag!

14. Films you could screen together, with discussion to follow: Years of Living Dangerously (here is episode 1), Vice environment channel, Merchants of Doubt are a few that we know and like. Ask for a couple volunteers to scope out the library of TED talks to view together and discuss. Here’s a playlist of TED talkscalled Earth, appreciated.

15. Dive into the new Sustainable Development Goals that nearly 200 countries agreed on in Paris, to be ratified on April 22nd. Which of these 17 big audacious objectives is your company already working on? Probably a few!

16. Academics: their institutions, think tanks, and their work; to follow and discuss:Yale Program on Climate Change Communication; University of Minnesota IOE/Ensia; MIT ClimateCoLab; Presidio; Arizona State University, Columbia’s Earth Institute; Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment; the Metcalf Institute for Environmental Reporting, Princeton Andlinger Center for Energy & the Environment; the Erb Institute at the University of Michigan. Climate Central, the World Resources Institute, NASA. eyes on earthDo not worry about struggling with dense wonkiness here: you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the clarity and modern, fresh imagery.

17. If you have a college or university nearby, you have your own local source of academic insight. Cast a net for other VIPs you’d like the group to know: a business leader or community problem-solver a chef-entrepreneur intent on zero food waste; or a couple of moms who are organizing a green schools initiative. Reach out and invite them to join you for a meeting. They’ll be delighted.

18. Leverage relationships with the NGOs that your company is already associated with or might become associated with. I’m thinking of world-class orgs focused on large companies, such as Ceres, RE100, EDF, World Wildlife Fund, We Mean Business, The B Team, Net Impact, CDP, Connect4Climate at the World Bank, the Nature Conservancy. Many of which have local chapters. All of which have excellent content and events that your members might like to participate on. Maybe youll run a community planting project, or support a water-conservation pledge in your city. Your Green Team will have lots of suggestions.

19. Arrange a field trip to see local and sustainably produced chocolate, beer, or socks.

20. There are lots of interestingconferences out there. Send a delegation to network, get inspired, and bring home ideas to share, use at work and at home.

21. Do not forget your own backyard! You may have innovative, effective projects and practices ongoing in different areas of your business. If you’re not sure, ask the CFO where decisions are being made to reduce waste and improve efficiencies. Why not organize a tour of your recycling facility, a solar installation, or the HVAC systems? Your facilities managers may be doing amazing things.

22. Invite in your most exciting executive leaders and partners for updates. Perhaps your Chief Marketing Officer can chat about a campaign that positions your brand in a game-changing way. Maybe you send her some questions in advance. How did she come up with this? How does she measure success, and what’s next?

23. Get social! Is someone on the Green Team great on Twitter, Facebook? Create a dedicated feed to keep it going between meetings. Coordinate with the company social media team to support their efforts. P.S. Be sure to follow @goWeSpire and please subscribe to our blog!

What’s Number 24? Please tell us your ideas!

P.S. Be sure to follow @goWeSpire and please subscribe to our e-newsletter!

WeSpire Employee Engagement Report 2018 Released

WeSpire released our sixth annual State of Employee Engagement report. Every year, we survey over 1,500 employees in the United States to learn more about what the companies they work for are doing to drive engagement, particularly in positive impact initiatives like sustainability, social impact, wellbeing and positive workplace culture.

This year’s survey validated the importance of having an clear, well-understood employee engagement strategy, particularly for large companies. Let’s start with the reality that only 36% of companies have a strategy at all (or at least a strategy that is evident to their employees). Those that have a strategy have very significant differences, over 20 percentage points, in the percentage of employees who feel inspired by their jobs and who feel like their talents are being utilized to their fullest potential. They have 12 percentage point fewer employees actively looking for new jobs. The data on disengagement is even more striking. Large companies without an engagement strategy have 14 times the number of highly disengaged employees than those without a strategy. We’ve learned that a discussion with WeSpire often catalyzes to a company to develop a more integrated, unified engagement strategy across different program areas. It’s one of the reasons we launched a new services team that helps companies evaluate and/or develop their engagement strategy, often prior to implementing our platform.

The second aspect of the survey that’s always interesting are the engagement program trends. Which programs do employees believe their companies offer? What do they participate in? This distinction is important relative to other research data because it’s from the perspective of the employee. So a program may exist on a list on the Intranet somewhere, but are employees really using it? Is management talking about it? We’ve found that when an employee is asked why they didn’t participate in a specific engagement initiative, as many as 70% will say they didn’t know about it. We think asking employees what’s offered distinguishes ‘check the box’ type programs that may exist, but aren’t used, from those that are truly impactful and supported.

Last year’s growth came primarily in recognition programs and diversity and inclusion programs. Diversity and inclusion was no surprise to the team at WeSpire as a number of our clients began using the platform for diversity and inclusion last year and as a result, diversity and inclusion became a core category of our new positive workplace culture module.

Both wellbeing and sustainability showed small declines, which is concerning given the excellent data that shows the positive impact of that sustainability programs have on overall engagement rates. Wellbeing was slightly surprising given other predictions that the industry will be growing by about 7% per year, but may be related to some recent legal rulings and/or changes to the ACA. The national movement, #MakeAmericaWell, sparked by the CEO of Mindbody Online’s letter to CEOs to increase investment in worker wellbeing, will hopefully be one of a number of factors to reverse this trend (Note: WeSpire has signed on as a partner in this movement).

Finally, the report highlighted the criticality of effective communication with only 23% of employees rating their company as highly effective when communicating about their program. We do believe that the link between having a program and building awareness and participation for it is one of the hardest parts of ensuring success. It’s one of the reasons that our Customer Success team works so closely with our customers on their communication and enrollment strategies and why our platform has a number of automated communications, employee to employee communications and program manager to employee communications tools to drive impact.

We hope that you find this year’s report as interesting as we did and would love to hear what comments or questions you might have after reading it. If you haven’t read it yet, download away!

#MakeAmericaWell Encourages CEOs to Take Ownership for Employee Wellbeing

If you’ve ever used Classpass, taken a PureBarre class, or booked a haircut appointment, chances are that you’ve used the app from Mindbody Online, an innovative technology company that helps wellbeing companies to run and scale their businesses digitally.

Last week, co-founder & CEO Rick Stollmeyer took out full page ads in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, met with Jim Cramer and appeared at the NASDAQ to issue a call to action to the business leaders of America. America’s employees are not particularly healthy, it’s costing everyone a lot of money [$3.4T was spent on healthcare], and people need help and support to improve fitness, eat healthy and reduce stress which contributes to 75% of the expense. The #MakeAmericaWell challenge encourages business leaders to commit to investing more in employee wellness.

However, Mindbody doesn’t offer employee wellbeing solutions to corporations directly and Stollmeyer wanted to offer a solution for those leaders who took the challenge and needed one. We were so proud when MindBody decided to include a reference to WeSpire in the challenge – and highlight our increased investment in wellbeing programs and our revolutionary behavior change platform. This way, leaders who want to invest more in wellbeing but are struggling to implement a program have at least one option right in front of them.

“At MINDBODY, our purpose is to help people lead healthier, happier lives by connecting the world to wellness. WeSpire provides an employee wellness solution that allows corporations with a technology platform to design, run and measure the impact of their employee engagement initiatives.These programs encourage employees to take actions that are good for them, good for the company and good for the world we live in.” said Amanda Patterson, VP of Corporate & Brand Marketing of Mindbody.

So if you think your company’s leadership should increase their commitment to employee wellbeing, encourage them to take the #MakeAmericaWell challenge. And if you are at a company that’s struggling to design, run and measure the impact of employee wellbeing campaigns, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re happy to help.


3 Actions for an Innovative Culture: Advice from Lazlo Bock

Lazlo Bock, the co-founder of Humu, a stealth mode start-up, spoke at this year’s HR Tech conference. Prior to being a fellow startup founder, Lazlo was the head of People Operations for Google. Many consider him to be the most innovative and analytical HR leader of this past decade.

He and Google have brought the business world incredible insights around performance, including the importance of psychological safety.

His keynote was about what one should DO to create a more innovative culture. His advice was practical. The path to innovation starts with small actions that collectively have a big impact. Here were three that jumped out:

Connect people to a greater purpose

Adam Grant’s research shows that fundraising success went up 40% when agents were visited regularly by people who benefited from the funds raised. But how do you DO this? His advice is pretty straight forward — ask! Find out why people are doing their jobs and what’s meaningful to them and then help them see how the work connects to what they care about.

Strike a balance between the big and the little

Companies need a portfolio of BIG ideas [moonshots] and continuous innovation and improvements [roofshots] in order to be innovative. The temptation by leadership is to focus most attention on the moonshots. However, arming yourself with stories of roofshots to share at All Hands Meetings ensures people are excited to be part of those efforts to improve something a little bit, all the time. And due to the laws of compounding, roofshots can be game-changing.

Manufacture casual collisions

Note that this advice was what to DO in order to “Be Lucky”. He talked about how the lunch line at Google was engineered to encourage people from different teams to have to wait at least a little bit and talk to people. One of Google’s most successful products came from one person overhearing another persons problem in the lunch line. How can you create physical elements that force people to change their patterns and interact with people they might not normally talk to? What can you DO to create moments of serendipity?

What I noticed in his presentation is that actions that create an innovative culture are familiar. They look pretty similar to those that create a positive culture. It suggests that a focus on creating a positive workplace will likely lead to a much more innovative workplace too. It’s something we see atWeSpirewith our customers. Once they run sustainability and social impact campaigns, they often want to use our platform to drive ideas for innovation. As a result, we are working on a cool new feature to support employee idea sharing and feedback. We are also developing metrics to demonstrate that employees who participate in positive impact initiatives are more likely to generate innovative ideas. What are the other connections you see between positive culture and innovation? Love to hear more in the comments!

Why Marketing Needs to Understand Sustainability

One of the most common questions we get at WeSpire is “why does every employee need to understand our sustainability goals? Shouldn’t it just be for the facilities team or used as a way to rally passionate Millennials on the green team?”

To answer, we often speak about the value of seeing the entire business through a sustainability lens, both to identify new opportunities for impact and to see potential risks that are impossible for any one leader or team to see.

Then last week, a prime example showed up in our office mail. Two companies that wanted to do business with us tried to generate a deal by sending their marketing efforts our way.

The first was a clearly expensive, heavy-to-mail “Bossface Emergency Kit”.

Upon opening, one received several items that were hopefully meant to be a humorous — including a travel eyeshade, a fidget spinner, a large bottle of “prescription mints”, a spray bottle with an unknown substance in it, and a prescription note pad. It was wrapped in reams of bubble wrap and the entire thing was, in a word, useless [except the mints, although one colleague noted that in the age of opioid addiction that sending around fake prescription bottles is probably a bad idea].

Our team had no use for, or interest in, any of the items and couldn’t fathom anyone else would appreciate this kit either. Assumedly if you need an eyeshade to sleep, you have one. Are you going to spray an unknown item in your face? It was hard to write on the prescription note pad unless you flipped it over to the backside. And of course, very little of it was recyclable so nearly the entire kit went into the garbage. Not only did the marketer not get a response, but now we were collectively annoyed at how much waste was generated by this company. Waste that we had to pay to dispose of in both time and money.

The other marketer took a different tack. We opened the box to find it filled with colorful shredded, recyclable filling. A simple card, also recyclable, explained what they wanted us to buy. The kit included a high quality, all-natural peanut butter, a sleeve of saltines, and packets of Bonne Maman jelly which immediately prompted several people to come get a snack — and read their card.

Now we didn’t buy either company’s product that day.

However, I remember which company sent the high quality, brand aligned snacks, as does my hungry team, and I’m appreciative that they sent something useful. From a brand standpoint, that company’s direct mail piece also conveyed a ton about what mattered to them. It suggested that quality, and sustainability, were important which meant our values were aligned, particularly relative to the contrast provided by that other company. Assuming I’m in the market for this service someday, who am I more likely to call? Yes, the Peanut Butter and Jelly people. In fact, some of our customers have proven that engaging employees in sustainability increases customer loyalty.

But would the marketing person at the other company even know how bad an impact their gift had on my perception, and perhaps others, of them as a company? Doubtful — we will just be marked down as one of the other 95% plus of non-responders. We know that more and more companies, and people, care about their environmental footprint and will not appreciate having to trash someone else’s unsolicited junk. Their sales people likely have no idea that there is a brand hurdle they will need to overcome created by a not-that-funny and wasteful marketing tactic.

In this case, marketing needs to understand sustainability to make better, smarter decisions about direct mail customer acquisition efforts. This need to understand certainly goes beyond marketing, as a sustainability lens helps make better business decisions in nearly every single role in your company. I’m also confident that the cost of the PB&J was a lot less than those custom bossface mints and mystery-ingredient face spray. That’s the beauty of a good sustainability strategy applied to everyday activities — it saves money, it reduces risk, and it grows brand. Now that’s something marketing can support!

We’d love to hear about more examples of the best, and worst marketing items you have received, particularly vis-a-vis sustainability, in the comments.

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