People, Planet, Profit Tools

PPP: Engage Employees

i15 Engaged Staff-WEB
Olivia Whittaker
Written by Olivia Whittaker

It is no secret that employee engagement is beneficial to companies; according to the Harvard business review it results in a lower turnover rate, lower absenteeism, higher productivity and a higher rate of success. What impact do “people and planet” efforts have on employee engagement in the workplace?

Engagement happens when employees feel they have a purpose. When thinking about what engages employees with a company, a large part of this engagement is giving employees a clear idea of the company’s values and goals.

Employees want to know what they are working for. According to a 2013 data report from Gallup, “For Millennials, Generation Xers, and Baby Boomers, Gallup’s research shows that focusing on giving employees opportunities to do what they do best and helping them connect to the mission and purpose of their company are the strongest factors for boosting retention.”

Recent demographic trends for individuals entering the workforce are showing that “people and planet” efforts can give employees a clear goal and purpose that engages them and helps them to keep a bigger picture in mind. These efforts also benefit people and the planet by reducing waste, carbon emissions, and conserving resources.  

Companies can use “people and planet” as an engagement tool to attract and retain top talent. According to a study outlined in Harvard Business Review, almost two thirds of respondents in the study said that sustainable business is “extremely important” to them, but only one third say their company has fully embraced sustainable practices. This shows a large opportunity for companies to embrace “people and planet” efforts and get ahead of the curve.

More and more companies are incorporating sustainability into their management practices.

HOW TO: Start engaging employees in “people and planet” efforts

  • Set the tone from the top down. Employees need to see their company as a whole, including the CEO, is committed to being socially responsible and environmentally sustainable.
  •  Create a position or team that is responsible for sustainability and social initiatives across the entire company. Ensure that employees know who the contact person or team is.
  • Start education during the hiring process and at employee orientation. This way new employees immediately know that sustainability is a company expectation and value.
  • Make sustainability an achievement goal for all employees. Sustainability is interdisciplinary at its core, so for company success, it will be related to all employees’ jobs—making it a key engagement tool.
  • Supply a medium for employees to provide suggestions and feedback on how the company can be more sustainable. Follow up with employees on their feedback so they know their ideas are being heard and opinions are being valued—even if each idea is not implemented.


  • According to a Gallup poll, “Employees who work for a female manager are six percentage points more engaged, on average, than those who work for a male manager.”
  • According to a Clemson University study, there are more females in sustainability leadership positions than in general management positions.
  • Also according to the same Clemson University study, “some evidence supports a correlation between the subject of sustainability and increased percentages of women in engineering.”

About the author

Olivia Whittaker

Olivia Whittaker

CCC Sustainability Intern Supervisor
Olivia is a recent graduate of the University of Nebraska-Omaha with a Bachelor of Science in environmental studies. She is the Environmental Sustainability Intern Supervisor for Central Community College.