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How Will Campbell Soup Achieve 100% Employee Engagement in Sustainability?

In 2012, Campbell Soup Company helped raise money for the Food Bank of South New Jersey by creating and selling Just Peachy, an all-natural salsa made from slightly imperfect peaches destined for the landfill. Campbell’s employees from various departments created a recipe, procured donations from suppliers, scheduled manufacturing time in the pilot plant, and made the salsa. And because the pilot plant (a R&D facility) didn’t have a labeler, Campbell’s volunteers (shown) labeled every jar by hand. | Image credit: Emma Lee via NewsWorks

Last year, Campbell Soup was ranked by media and investment research company Corporate Knights as one of the world’s most sustainable companies, with key initiatives that reduced water consumption by 13 billion liters, cut 280,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and constructed a 24-hectare, 10 mega-watt solar field.

But alongside saving and yielding resources, Campbell knows that creating a work environment that encourages innovation, rewards results and embodies its values is a key strategy for maximizing shareholder value.

As a result, one of its targets is to achieve 100 percent employee engagement in CSR and sustainability by 2020.

But what does 100 percent employee engagement mean? This is what Campbell Soup asked themselves when they set their ambitious target, and it’s what I asked the VP of public affairs and corporate responsibility, Dave Stangis.

Individual performance metrics

Part of measuring and increasing engagement at Campbell Soup involved integrating it into the performance management.

“If I stopped employees in the hallway and asked them how they were advancing the sustainability strategy, they wouldn’t always have an answer for me,” Stangis says.

To address this, “we created a standardized place in the individual performance management form that asked what employees were doing as an individual, across their team and with their manager to advance the company’s culture including CSR and sustainability.

So what might this look like? Internally, employees addressing CSR and sustainability could take many forms, Stangis says.

“It could be making sure that their workgroup volunteers 20 percent more in their local community with one of our non-profit partners than they did last year, joining the employee sustainability team to help organize the company Earth Day event at our world headquarters or plant, or working on integrating a healthier ingredient into a product next year.

“As a real-life scenario: Someone in our communications department aims to tell a better sustainability story from our plant level; he’s taken this objective to understand what sustainability work is happening in our 30 manufacturing plants around the world and help communicate that better externally."

To be successful, Stangis says the sustainability strategy has to be fully integrated. This means “getting it into the individuals’ behavior and daily work plans and performance assessment or expectations throughout the course of the year. It’s not something extra; it’s part of our day-to-day job.” It also means integrating a CSR module into new employee orientation, so people can be trained in these values as soon as they join the company.

Talented individuals seeking jobs, particularly Millennials, are “weighing up the way that a company operates, the culture of the company and whether or not they can bring their values to the workplace — so CSR and sustainability helps in the attraction and retention of the best talent — who you need to work on the strategy.”

CSR and sustainability metrics have also been put into Campbell’s executive compensation. This involves “a CSR index for our compensation formula that focuses on ethical compliance investigations, safety performance, reductions in energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, waste/recycling and water use.”

An extraordinary workplace

If an extraordinary workplace is what Campbell is working to achieve, what does that vision look like to Stangis?

“An extraordinary workplace would be one where everybody who works in a company gets up and wants to come to work, because they believe in what they do, what they’re bringing and what the company stands for."

Stangis believes that some of their most recent acquisitions aren’t too away from this.

“We recently acquired Plum Organics, which also sells in the UK. Pretty much everyone I met at Plum gets up, loves to come to work and just believes in the mission of that business. We love having them as a part of our company now.”

Wellness

Campbell recognizes that physical, mental and financial health are all interlinked and have an impact on company productivity.

“Everybody that comes into the workplace brings invisible baggage with them – sometimes it can be great and they love their baggage. Other times it can weigh them down and slow down their progress and impact their health. Perhaps there is an illness in their family, or they are dealing with other stressors in their life outside of work.

Wellness starts, according to Stangis, with keeping people safe, giving them access to all the information they require in regards to their health.

“Any time our employees want help with a health issue, they can get it in a way that’s affordable and easy."

He says if employees have the ability to make healthy choices in their work environment, then they can take that home and share it with their family.

This might include offering a health-risk assessment for our employees and their families, an on-site fitness center, a workplace smoking-cessation program or healthy meal preparation courses.

“All of these add to the company’s productivity. Building a compensation and benefits plan is about taking care of the employees’ well-being and that can then make a virtuous circle in their life," Stangis said.

Another of Campbell’s acquisitions was Bolthouse Farms. They produce baby carrots, super-premium juices and refrigerated salad dressings with high nutritional content, with a mission to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

“If their employees want to run a marathon, the company funds their training — it helps them meet their health goals, and recognizing that some of these people have made some major lifestyle changes. That’s the way we’re trying to look at wellness.

Volunteering

2010 saw the start of a 10-year, $10 million Campbell Healthy Communities program to reduce the rate of childhood obesity and hunger, and, last year alone, the donation of more than 23,000 volunteer hours in the U.S. and Canada to support local Campbell communities.

Stangis says he would love to be able to quantify the positive effects of volunteering for employees and the company.

“We are huge believers in volunteering — I would love to be able to measure it. We can measure it anecdotally — we can do post-volunteer surveys, and we’ve doubled, sometimes tripled, our volunteer service numbers in the last couple of years to a formal foundation program.

“If an employee volunteers 25 hours, the Campbell Soup Foundation will grant $500 to that non-profit that you volunteered at. So it’s not only a way for our employees to direct their time and passion, but also a little money, too.”

Corporate officers at Campbell Soup have also been getting into their jeans and t-shirts and volunteering in strategic ways.

“This is not just picking up garbage in the streets or planting trees — if we’re focusing on health and nutrition of the youth in our home town, that’s where we’ll have the whole corporate executive team volunteering."

Not only is it good for them to get out the office and into the community, Stangis says, but it’s a call to action to all employees that it’s okay for them to follow suit.

“Not only do our employees want to be aligned with the executive team, but they also have permission — it doesn’t feel like something they’re sneaking away from work to do.

“There’s a whole week of service that we do once a year and it’s been great. There’s no doubt that if I came up with the right metric to measure it, I believe I could determine greater engagement, productivity and retention, and even happiness in the workplace.

Extraordinary Performance Awards

Campbell aims to celebrate its employees’ achievements throughout the year, but its premier event is the Extraordinary Performance Awards (EPA).

“Our EPA is our largest annual recognition event where teams from all over the world are recognized for major things that line up to our strategies. We have categories every year that focus on sustainability and community involvement.”

Stangis said some of their branch’s employees have come out top.

“Our renewable strategy team won one of these awards, but an individual a couple of years ago won an award for 'greening' commercial shoot sets, where we actually shot a commercial. It was green in terms of all recycled content, carpooling the talent back and forth and minimizing our footprint.

“They love it. It’s a big deal.”

This post first appeared on the 2degrees blog on January 16, 2014.


Victoria is content editor at 2degrees, where she is responsible for delivering content, specifically in the areas of customer and employee engagement, social value and water management. Her role is to keep up with the latest sustainability issues that businesses and organisations face,… [Read more about Victoria Knowles]


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