Business Sustainability and Your Job: How Do You Align Your Corporate & Employee Values?

Published: Jun 24, 2010


There are multiple paths to career satisfaction but findingmeaning in your work may be the single most contributing factor to long termsatisfaction in the workplace. In a recent article in HarvardBusiness Review, [Getting Beyond Engagement to Creating Meaning at Work],David Ulrich, a professor at Ross School of Business, and Wendy Ulrich, founderof Sixteen Stones Center for Growth, write, "Those who succeed atcreating meaning — either on their own or with the help of their boss — tend towork harder, more creatively, and with more tenacity, giving thecompanies that employ them a leg up in the marketplace. What's more, studyafter study suggests that when employees experience meaning, their employersenjoy higher rates of customer commitment and investor interest."

Sustainabilityin the workplace

The question then is twofold: As employers, how doyou create meaningful work? As an employee, how do you create meaningfulwork for yourself?

Business sustainability presents the unique opportunity toincrease profitability, gain and maintain a competitive advantage over thecompetition, and create meaningful work in the process. The key is invalue alignment. How can organizational values and employee values pairup? Sustainable businesses with existing CSR and sustainability plans mayhave it a little easier, but those without can still create value.

Consider the use of the following strategies to align corporate and employeevalues to create meaningful work.

--Corporate volunteering
--Greenteams: Allow participates to meet, collaborate, and discusson topics unique to their position in the organization, namely, issues andareas of specific interest in how it relates to their job, their departments,and the overall organization.
--Createindividual employee sustainability programs:The basic premise of a personal sustainability program is to reduce thecarbon footprint, lighten the load on the planet as well as reap the benefitsof living a more sustainable lifestyle. Line this up with the corporatesustainability plan and initiatives.
--Educate:Offer ongoing workshops, training, lunch and learns, and educational activitiesto educate workers on the environmental issues (energy, water, waste, andothers) and the associated actions causing the problems. Identify newbehavior and eco actions that individually workers can take to create new patternsof behavior and choices that support environmental solutions and are alignedwith the company's overarching sustainability plan.

Now, from an employee's perspective:

--Consideryour approach to your current position:No one knows your job better than you. You have a better chance of discoveringways to improve processes and integrate sustainability concepts thananyone. Perform your job from the perspective of how can I do my job in amore eco friendly manner.
--Takeeco action in your daily activities:Recycle, commit to paperless, share with others what you are doing and why youare doing it and get them involved.
--Engagemanagement by incorporating sustainability conceptsin your personal development plan.
--Takeon new sustainability roles and projects in the organization:Start a recycling program, lead a paper free initiative, host a lunch and learnproviding local and organic foods
--Become the “go-to” person for all things green
--Expandyour corporate green network:Engage in internal business activities, networking events, internal andexternal training, professional organizations, and business communities—all easyoptions to engage in your company’s community outreach programs.

Creating meaningful work is both the responsibility of theemployer as well as the employee. How are you creating meaningfulwork?

--BySustainability Expert, Julie Urlaub. Ms. Urlaub is thefounder and managing partner of TaigaCompany. She writes, speaks, blogs and consults on how changing theway you look at something can change your results and your world. She's asuperstar green blogger, 2010 Shorty Award Runner Up on Twitter in the Greencategory (with over 15,000 followers), and works with companies to address thegreen/sustainability pressures in a way that strengthens them—capitalizing onthe opportunities and mitigating the risk.