The cosmetics company was a runner-up in Guardian Sustainable Business’s Engaging Employee awards.
The company aims to achieve 100 percent employee engagement in sustainability by 2020. In the same year it aims to produce zero waste, use 100 percent renewable energy and use completely biodegradable packaging.
Burt’s Bees makes sustainability training mandatory for all staff, in a program launched last year. The Greater Good initiative requires employees to spend up to 30 hours a year training in environmental stewardship, social outreach, natural wellness and leadership. Possible subjects of study include energy and water conservation, change management, and “health properties of the honeybee,” the Guardian says.
Employee pay is based partially on sustainability metrics as well as profit. Staff using low-carbon transport can receive subsidies, and the company matches employees’ offsets of their home energy use.
Telecoms company O2 was the other runner-up in the Guardian awards, and Marks & Spencer won the top prize for its Plan A initiative, which includes employee engagement goals among 180 commitments to achieve by 2015. So far, Plan A has raised stores’ energy efficiency by 19 percent and improved fuel efficiency on clothing deliveries by 30 percent, the Guardian said, with carbon emissions down by 20 percent per square foot.
Every M&S store has a Plan A champion, who volunteers to encourage colleagues to cut electricity consumption, reduce paper use and recover more waste. Stores are ranked each month to foster a sense of competition. A bespoke website allows staff to view each store’s energy use. On team days, champions meet to share ideas.
M&S said a number of champions have moved into the company’s management development program, and that new recruits often cite Plan A as a reason why they would like to work for the chain.
The company also seeks to engage staff at home by discounting solar technology, bikes, train fares and eco-holidays, and it recently offered employees free energy monitors worth £30 ($49) and free loft insulation worth £250.