We talk a lot about engagement because it’s a strong indicator of the state of a workforce. There are many ways to boost engagement that typically fall under HR—well-defined career paths, recognition or promotion opportunities, a clear alignment with company goals, wellness and benefits,…and the list goes on. These methods of personal and professional growth are focused on balancing the needs of the individual with that of the organization—keeping a high level of engagement to positively affect the bottom line of the company.
What if there was a way to engage employees by inspiring the collective workforce to create actions that affect the bottom line AND have a positive impact on the world around us? Sounds too good to be true, but today technology exists to do this type of good. I sat down with Founding Partner of WeSpire, Sarah Finnie Robinson, who hopes her company can “move the needle on human behavior as it relates to creating a network effect of exponential positive impact, such as energy efficiencies and environmental sustainability.”
In honor of Earth Day—a special day reserved for "bringing attention to the efforts being done to broaden, diversify and activate the environmental movement worldwide"—we would like to share our interview with Sarah to learn how one company plans to positively impact the world around us through an engaging technology platform for employees.
Lexi Gordon (LG): Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, especially during one of the busiest times for a sustainability-focused company! Could you tell me about how you got to where you are today as Founding Partner of WeSpire?
Sarah Finnie Robinson (SFR): It’s my pleasure to chat with you. About five and a half years ago, I started to get very interested in climate change. I started hearing more and more about the dangerous effects of CO2 overload, and other pollution, and one day I decided I wanted to be part of the solution. I started to think about it, and realized we’d never make much progress unless more people were aware and involved. Just at that time, as if by magic, a friend introduced me to Susan Hunt Stevens, the Founder of WeSpire, who was envisioning a better, more fun way to get a handle on sustainability for regular people, not just the “dark greens” who already knew there was a problem and were perhaps alienating others from getting involved because of a fearful, preachy tone. We both had media backgrounds, and decided to partner to create a platform that inspired people to take positive action.
LG: That’s such a fortuitous journey! Can you tell me a bit about WeSpire and how your platform works?
SFR: WeSpire is an employee engagement platform that empowers forward-thinking global organizations to engage their employees in positive impact programs, such as sustainability, volunteering, well-being, safety, security, and more. We have the only configurable library of hundreds of action-based projects backed by applied behavioral science. Through our Behavioral Project Library, we connect with individuals on a personal level to raise their awareness of initiatives that create human value and simultaneously drive measurable, positive impact. The platform measures the overall impact these efforts have on the environment or the business goals. Brands use this information to guide future corporate program decision-making and reporting.
LG: There are so many ways to engage employees, and different technologies, like yours, have emerged to help. How is WeSpire effective at engaging employees?
SFR: The proven content library is unrivaled in the industry because it’s been tested with employees around the world. Users are motivated to take action, accessing information, resources, and advice despite the complexity of issues such as carbon emissions reductions, the benefits of eating vegetarian, and water conservation, but as a user, you feel like you are using a fun, social media tool. The tool has integrations of game and social mechanics to make it fun. Friendly competitions, leaderboards, a public newsfeed and the ability to post photos and comments promote camaraderie and involvement. Some companies have competition engrained in their culture, which makes it even more compelling to use.
LG: What sorts of positive impacts are you seeing?
SFR: We’ve seen so many ways in which this tool is impacting the environment through the sustainable actions employees are inspired to make. In a recent example, a customer based in California was required by law to change the behavior of its employees to meet a local water reduction mandate. In response, we created Droughtbusters, a corporate water stewardship project that raises awareness and provides actionable steps for employees to take to reduce water consumption. Through the project, over 7.7 million gallons of water have been saved so far and the project has been so popular it is being deployed by other companies.
LG: How about impacts on employee engagement?
SFR: It’s so satisfying when we hear how our platform has helped one of our customer companies to enhance their company culture in a unique way. A recent example comes from one of our large beauty retail customers. The company launched our platform to connect employees to their corporate mission and values, and specifically to their volunteering program. Since implementing WeSpire, its employees have really rallied around the platform and the brand with 60% participation and nearly 800 volunteer hours have been completed. We've also had wonderful experiences where employees at our customer companies have contacted us via email or phone to tell us how much they value our platform and how it has transformed their lifestyle and habits in a foundational way. We see examples all the time of how our platform creates a sense of enrichment and fulfillment for employees, and I think this is what keeps people coming back.
LG: If you could predict the future, what does work look like?
SFR: The future of work is about awareness, accessibility and purpose. Any kind of a solution that can come to people in a way that’s accessible is a good thing. As Millennials take over the workplace, they want to work for a company with authentic values that resonate for them. Research is already showing that younger workers are prioritizing an organization’s corporate social responsibility agenda over salary offerings. Companies will increasingly need to accommodate for that. Global concerns are communicated instantly and everywhere, and people want to be part of the solution. I see a workplace in the future providing opportunities for employees to see their passions applied to meaningful work and to be proud of their workplace mission.
LG: Thank you so much for your time today, we appreciate learning about new tools that are a win-win for all involved.
SFR: Thank you for the opportunity!
NOTE: exaqueo does not endorse products or services, and from time to time we will often share new products we discover in the HR space.
Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps organizations build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.