Engaging Widespread Staff in Our Corporate Sustainability Program

Hilary Snover

It’s no secret that Ecova is a growing company―we now have over 1,400 employees spread throughout 30 states! We work hard to keep our employees engaged and have several programs in place to help drive this effort. One such program is Ecova Impact, our internal corporate sustainability initiative.

Ecova Impact is designed to foster “best-in-class” sustainable business practices by embedding them into our company culture. By launching an internal program, we’re not only “walking the talk,” but we’re demonstrating to clients and employees the importance of corporate resource management and the positive impact it has on our company, community, and greater world.
corporate-sustainability-program-poster-largeBecause sustainability programs are often so focused on gaining bottom-line savings through onsite resource efficiency, it’s easy to concentrate most of your time and resources on the major office locations’ “low hanging fruit” opportunities―but sustainability isn’t just about making buildings efficient—it’s also about making sure employees are efficient in the way that they interact with their work environment. And to really embed sustainability in a company culture, all employees need the opportunity to learn and engage around corporate sustainability efforts.

Given that many of our employees work in smaller offices or are remote/field staff, it’s particularly important that Ecova Impact is not limited to our larger offices. So, over the last several months, we’ve worked hard to ensure that this initiative reaches all of our employees. A team was recently selected to represent this important group of employees, and I’m thrilled to be one of the 12 employees chosen.

Since we are all remote, field and small office employees, we know firsthand that our work experience is different from that of most Ecovians who work in our larger offices. Shortly after our team was selected, one of my teammates and I travelled to the Portland office for an Ecova Impact “boot-camp” to bring us up to speed on some of the current and ongoing initiatives, to understand how the small office/remote efforts will integrate with the larger program, and to discuss some of the challenges specific to this group.

During our Portland visit, we quickly learned that Ecova Impact runs deeper than just our Community Service Day benefit (a paid day off for every employee to volunteer in his/her community) and recycling bins! We were excited to learn about all of the exciting ways the Impact team engages colleagues―from friendly competitions, to resource libraries and best practice sharing, to informative brown bags― all of which help us gain a better understanding of sustainability and our company’s impact on our communities and our environment. We knew that we wanted to share this same level of engagement with our team, but how? We left Portland with a clearer understanding of our roles as Team Leads, but with a long list of questions. The biggest one was how are we going to communicate a unified message to a remote team that is spread throughout the United States?

Soon after we returned to our respective homes and our “normal“ full-time position responsibilities, we quickly learned that there was another obstacle we were going to have to overcome in order to get our team off the ground―balancing our full time positions with our roles as Ecova Impact Team Leads. However, we realized that one of the benefits of having two Team Leads and a team of 10 additional Team Reps is that we can work together to use each of our strengths. After a lot of behind-the-scenes research on the best ways to engage a remote workforce, I’m happy to say that we’ve made some important first steps toward reaching our goal of engaging Ecova’s widespread small office and field staff:

  • We implemented a weekly communication update with the team leads in our larger offices to keep the communication flowing.
  • We divided our team into 6 regional sub-teams with two Impact team members working together as co-captains. These sub-teams will be responsible for reaching out and engaging the small office/remote staff in their regions. This will encourage collaboration, allow us to communicate with a smaller group, and hopefully encourage some friendly competition between regions!
  • We sent a welcome package to the entire small office/remote team, with our first group focus to push for 100% involvement in the EcoChallenge.
  • Where Ecova offices have the option to physically post updates and information, we had to go virtual. We have established a virtual “Hub” for sharing Impact updates and news, and will be using this as a way to provide information to the nearly 200 small office/remote Ecovians across the US.

We still have a long ways to go on our journey to bring the message of sustainability to our widespread audience, but we have a great team and are off to a strong start. Look for more updates soon!

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