Employee Engagement

Two members of the Sun Eco leadership team, Marcy Lynn and Lori Duvall, have been holding a conversation through their blogs recently (last two posts here and here).

In her latest post Marcy is lamenting the state of employee engagement at Sun. She cites the lack of "green teams" and inactivity in the Eco Facebook community as evidence for her sense that employee engagement hasn't gotten going to the extent that it has in other companies where "green teams" have taken off.

But I wonder if we really take our motto, "Every job is an eco job", to heart, and we look at what's taking place in the organization, are these valid ways to measure employee engagement?

For example, our Workplace organization has made serious strides in embedding sustainability into their activities for this year, embodying the "Every job..." concept. But since they're already a team, would it make sense for them to register as a "green team"? Do they need to share the ideas they're working on within their org on Facebook, since they already have the authority and budget to act on them?

I could cite similar examples for what's going on in energy efficient design in the product teams, or the great work our datacenter teams have done creating much more efficient IT and labs for Sun.

My realization from reading Marcy's blog and thinking about this is that if you really execute on "Every job...", then it just becomes part of what they do, and it gets harder to see exactly what they are doing and how they are doing it. A parallel may be to say "Every job is a business job", which in a company is generally true. But that doesn't mean that every employee self-identifies as a business person, or as part of a business team.

Ironically, one of the reasons we started the "Every job..." campaign was that we realized there was lots of opportunities in areas we didn't know anything about, so we wanted people to find them themselves. What we didn't think about was that folks might buy into the idea, find opportunities we didn't see, do the work, and we'd never find out!

Finally, I don't want to risk overstating what we've accomplished in employee engagement. We've got a long way to go. But I also don't want to miss out on what is happening. In at least some areas I don't believe we have a disconnect in employee engagement, but instead its a failure of recognizing and measuring employee engagement.


Interesting. I hadn't thought of employee engagement in this way but I see what you are saying and it makes me feel a bit better about things when I think about all that is going on at Sun in areas like Work Environments, energy efficiency of our products and supply chain. Maybe the issue isn't one of employee engagement but rather, as you suggest, one of what we consider engagement and how we measure it.

That said, I am still underwhelmed by "employee engagement" in our company's overall sustainability efforts. One example is the low overall readership of our CSR report. Even if a large percentage of people visiting our online CSR reports is employees, it would still mean a very small number (and percentage) of Sun employees accessing the report. Perhaps you are right - perhaps the notion of "employee engagement" needs to be reconsidered. But every time I get an email - and I get several every week - from a Sun employee asking me about what, if anything, our company is doing to address our social and/or environmental responsibilities, and I point the employee to one or another of the resources on sun.com or internally to give the full picture of our efforts, and the employee lets me know s/he had no idea any of this was going on...I consider that whatever we are doing, we are not engaging enough of our employees in this work.

Yes, the "Every job..." concept can be readily applied to our real estate team, our product development teams, our logistics teams. But what about our marketing teams? The administrative staff? The sales force? Legal? Finance? HR? etc. These are the groups we haven't had success reaching...

Posted by Marcy Lynn on December 14, 2009 at 10:48 AM EST #

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