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Sep 3, 201501:50 PMOpen Mic

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Engage employees to make cool choices

Are your employees willing to put in the extra effort it takes to delight a customer? Do they live your brand? Are they emotionally committed to your organization and its goals?

This level of employee engagement is possible to attain and it pays off.

In 2013, Gallup did a meta-analysis where they looked at more than 250 studies on employee engagement involving more than 1.3 million employees. They found that companies in the top quartile of engagement had 48% fewer safety incidents, 41% higher quality, and 22% higher profitability. Companies in the top half for engagement had double the odds of success as those in the bottom half on engagement.

So how do you get engagement? There are lots of strategies out there but one of the most compelling ideas is to connect work to purpose. Generally speaking, employees are more engaged when they feel good about the work they are doing; an employee’s organizational pride increases when they see that their company is making a positive contribution.

Engaging employees around sustainability is a smart way to increase engagement, while also promoting innovation and cost savings in your business. Recent surveys suggest that millennials in particular are willing to prioritize sustainable business practices over salary when selecting an employer. As businesses increasingly compete for the best talent, engaging employees in your business’ sustainability strategy becomes an important recruitment and retention tool.

There are hundreds of resources online about how you can leverage sustainability to engage your employees. And closer to home, the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council’s website features stories from Wisconsin firms that are doing amazing work on engagement (and a myriad of other issues). Plus the City of Madison’s Green Madison program is currently offering free access to employee engagement tools as part of their effort to reduce energy usage in Madison.

Dozens of Madison organizations have signed up to take part in the Cool Choices citywide sustainability game.

The time to act on engagement is now.

Kathy Kuntz is executive director of Cool Choices.

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