Action Guide

Engage Employees

Environmental Defense Fund

Employee engagement is a crucial part of realizing success in the implementation of your sustainability strategy; you need employees to buy into the proposed changes to realize the greatest savings. Additionally, your sustainability strategy and its success will affect your company’s reputation in the workforce and your ability to attract and retain the greatest talent among younger generations.

Engaged employees support your sustainability strategy and build momentum for future returns on energy and cost savings. Conversely, sustainability initiatives that lack employee engagement often fail when key teams are not bought into the new process. When you get it right, employee engagement creates a virtuous cycle that builds on your strategy and corporate culture to realize greater returns.  

Not only is employee engagement crucial to the success of sustainability initiatives within your organization, but sustainability itself plays an increasingly important role in employee recruitment, retention, and satisfaction. As younger generations enter the workforce, they are increasingly concerned with the climate crisis, climate equity, and social justice and seek out companies that align with their values. According to a study by Cone Communications, 64% of Millennials will not take a job if their employer does not have a strong CSR (corporate social responsibility) policy, and 83% would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues (vs. 70% U.S. average).1 Additionally, employees are more likely to be engaged and satisfied with their work if they feel that your company is committed to sustainability and making a positive impact. Thus, investing in sustainability can not only benefit your sustainability strategy but also help your company attract and retain top talent. 

Empower Employees 

Giving employees a voice and ownership in your company’s sustainability journey will help build engagement across the business. Below are some suggestions on how you can empower employees on your company’s sustainability journey. 

  • Provide education and training to employees about sustainability initiatives, the importance of conservation, and how to get involved. 
  • Establish clear sustainability goals and communicate them effectively to employees. Leaders should be visible and vocal advocates for sustainability and communicate the organization’s commitment to sustainability effectively. Encourage employees to provide feedback and suggestions for sustainability initiatives. 
  • Incorporate sustainability criteria into decision-making processes across the business. 
  • Encourage and support sustainable practices, such as carpooling and using public transportation, turning off lights and electronics when not in use, reducing paper usage, and using reusable containers. 
  • Foster a culture of sustainability by making it a part of the company’s identity and values. 
  • Consider embedding sustainability into compensation and performance review processes. Provide incentives for employees who adopt sustainable practices, such as recognition or rewards.  
  • Encourage and support employee-led sustainability initiatives and green teams. 


  1. EDF Climate Corps Handbook: Eighth Edition

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