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SHRM Survey: Sustainability Programs Held Steady Last Two Years




A new survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows that increased employee morale, a better public image, and efficiency top the reasons why organizations should consider a corporate sustainability program.

The survey shows that 53 percent of organizations said their sustainability initiatives improved employee morale. Slightly more than half—51 percent—said such programs created a stronger public image for the organization. A little less than half, or 47 percent, reported more efficient business processes.

Roughly four out of 10 (37 percent) organizations report calculating the return-on-investment, or ROI, on their sustainability initiatives. Among those that calculated ROI, 56 percent report a positive return on investment while 39 percent note too early to tell at the time of survey. Five percent calculated a break-even point. Only one percent calculated a negative ROI.

“Sustainability initiatives can play a large part in boosting an employer’s brand and improving employee retention,” said SIOP Member Alexander Alonso, vice president of research at SHRM.

The 2012 numbers are mostly improved over 2010 when 47 percent of HR professionals reported a positive return on investment while 46 percent reported it too early to tell. Six percent calculated a break-even point. Only one percent calculated a negative ROI.

The most recent survey shows that 72 percent of organizations are engaged in sustainable business practices, unchanged since 2010. A breakdown shows that 50 percent have a formal policy directly tied to business strategy. Roughly four in 10, or 42 percent, have an informal policy. Only eight percent have no policy in place.

The survey identifies five methods HR professionals use to engage employees in volunteer community outreach initiatives:

  • 62 percent recognize employees who participate in volunteer programs;
  • 51 percent provide company-sponsored volunteer events during work hours;
  • 48 percent provide company-sponsored volunteer events after work hours, e.g. weekends;
  • 48 percent encourage senior management to participate in volunteer programs; and
  • 43 percent encourage employees to spearhead volunteer programs.

The SHRM survey defines sustainability as: the commitment by organizations to balance financial performance with contributions to the quality of life of their employees, the society at large, and environmentally sensitive initiatives.

You can read the complete survey here.