How TD Bank measures employee engagement on sustainability

A team at BrownFlynn sat down with the head of environment for leading US retail bank TD Bank to find out how the organization measures employee engagement on sustainability.

TD Bank is a top-10 retail bank in the United States with more than 26,000 employees and 1,300 locations.

TD Bank is a top-10 retail bank in the United States with more than 26,000 employees and 1,300 locations.

How do you accurately measure effective employee engagement in environmental initiatives? It is a tough nut to crack for most companies, but TD Bank has found a way that works for them.

We interviewed Diana Glassman, Head of TD Environment for TD Bank about the Environmental Employee Engagement (EEE) Program, who hopes it can help others scale up their own successful programs.

What is the EEE Program, its intended accomplishments and its critical success factors to date?

TD Bank set specific environmental business goals as we strive to be as green as our logo. The EEE Program is a holistic approach to capture the minds and hearts of our employees, and to enable them to be Environmental Leaders while building the better bank.

We wanted to establish a program that aligned with our corporate goals of reducing carbon/employee by 25% and paper by 20% by 2015, and fit our corporate culture. We also wanted to create a comprehensive program that quantified results and reached all our stores, many of which have only a handful of employees. Before establishing this program, we did extensive research and found that a program like this did not really exist in the market, so we had to create it ourselves.

One critical success factor is the framework we developed called the 4H’s of Environmental Leadership at TD Bank®: Head, Heart, Hands and Horn. This framework has helped us structure and organize our program to ensure we are moving employees through the cycle and using our resources efficiently. Importantly, we identified quantitative metrics that matter to the business for each stage of the cycle – and can track our performance over time.

Another critical success factor is an identification of audiences within the bank, and recognizing that we need to take each audience through the 4Hs with different tactics that are suited to them. We have 1,300 retail stores from Maine to Florida and 26,000 employees. That is a lot of employees with diverse interests and needs to motivate and mobilize!

A final critical success factor is that we needed to integrate the EEE program into the core of the business; we needed to make it relevant to all employees from part-time tellers to senior executives otherwise it would never have a chance of surviving and thriving. Our EEE program is linked to our university talent acquisition efforts, orientation, training, rewards and recognition, and leadership development pipeline in our largest business – and financial metrics that matter to senior executives.

What challenges have you faced along the way and how have you overcome them?

One challenge we overcame was finding a balance between aligning the EEE Program with corporate business and environmental objectives and allowing employees to take the program and run with it. A piece of advice would be to look at your company’s structure and culture before determining if a top-down or bottom-up approach will work for you.

At TD, we worked within our existing management structure to co-design the EEE program, define roles and responsibilities and establish the proper infrastructure before rolling it out to all employees. We facilitated a cross-functional planning effort up front to build support and get good ideas from the broad range of business partners whose help we need to reach all our employees, and to minimize execution hitches down the road.

How do you measure employee engagement and what have these metrics told you about engagement in general?

…a company has to determine what metrics are relevant for its business and go from there; what does your senior leadership really care about? What do they want to know?

It’s difficult because you’re trying to measure an “emotional” subject while demonstrating business value and return on investment. In general, a company has to determine what metrics are relevant for its business and go from there; what does your senior leadership really care about? What do they want to know? For us, it was creating quantifiable metrics that are indicators of revenue growth, cost reduction, and employee satisfaction. Additionally, we are measuring and reporting these metrics by business unit, geography, and senior executive.

As one example, we know that over 40% of our people took The Green Pledge within a two month period. This means that more than 10,000 employees are, at the very least, in the “Head” stage of our cycle because the very act of “Taking the Pledge” means they are aware of our environmental programs.
When we analyzed this bank in greater detail, the evidence was unambiguous — senior executive commitment matters.

In addition, geographies with active programs designed to accelerate the Heart, Hands and Horn had significantly higher participation rates. Areas with higher participation rates also demonstrated cost reduction, increases in self-reported employee pride and commitment to TD Bank, and new avenues of conversation with customers.

We also know our senior leaders want to see numbers – establishing friendly competition among them and their business units helps further drive engagement and results. But again, this is all unique to our organization. The key is finding what works for you, what is authentic to your organization’s culture and taking it from there.

The EEE Program is a holistic approach to capture the minds and hearts of our employees, and to enable them to be Environmental Leaders while building the better bank.

The EEE Program is a holistic approach to capture the minds and hearts of our employees, and to enable them to be Environmental Leaders while building the better bank.

What other areas of employee engagement would you like to measure in the future?

Our EEE program’s metrics are indicators of revenue generation, cost reduction, employee satisfaction and brand maintenance. Over time we intend to conduct statistical analyses across our 1,300 stores that establish the correlation of our program and store revenue, customer satisfaction, employee retention and cost reduction.

What advice would you give to other companies that are trying to establish an environmental employee engagement program?

I would say keep in mind that this is a multi-disciplinary program so your program team needs to be diverse in skills, experience and perspective. Our program works well because we have business-minded people driving the strategy and results-orientation needed to cascade it across the organization, as well as large-scale program management capabilities, excellent communications skills, and subject matter expertise in the environment.

Make sure your program is not stand-alone but instead integrated into the financial and people objectives of the core business. Do the heavy lifting before launching the program – plan well to pre-empt execution difficulties faced by any large-scale cultural transformation program, and embed the program into functions such as recruiting, onboarding, training and rewards and recognition. Above all, build executive support before launching the program – and make it easy for them to advocate the program for you. Without this, the program will have a difficult road ahead.

What is one thing you’re most proud of with regard to the EEE program?

We have created a framework that simplifies and quantifies a “soft” subject in a way that makes it relevant to business leaders. The 4Hs of Environmental Leadership at TD Bank® helped us create an efficient (and fun!) program that systematically reaches all our employees in a short period of time. I wish we had this framework before we got started, and hope it gives others a reference point that they can use to scale their own programs. Our model is a model of engagement – and is relevant beyond the corporate sector. We hope it can also help communities and cities to engage larger parts of the public in environmental initiatives.

Many thanks for Diana and her TD Environment team for allowing us to pick their brains and share valuable insights into environmental employee engagement, specifically around measurement and success factors.

This article was originally published on the 2degrees network

Written by: Marissa Beechuk and Margie Flynn of BrownFlynn
is a leading, award-winning corporate social responsibility and sustainability consulting firm. All of BrownFlynn’s business is derived from sustainability consulting, communications and training services. The Firm advises Fortune 500 and privately held companies on how to integrate responsible practices into their business strategies, and how to communicate these practices internally and externally for bottom-line impact.

One Response

  1. PeterBurgess

    I like this article, and I like the fact that an organization like TD Bank is looking at sustainability. But I don’t see what is being described as a game changer that will address the deep systemic dysfunction that there is in the modern economy and society.

    The idea that 26,000 employees will get engaged through their 4H initiative is nice, but what jobs do these 26,000 people do. What is the purpose of the bank? What is the purpose of the jobs that these people do?

    What is the source of profit for the bank? Where do the revenues of the bank come from that pay the wages of the staff?

    Does the bank actually create wealth, or does it merely move wealth from its customers into the bank?

    Is the bank one of the facilitators that allows the credit reporting industry to behave in the way it does (as per CBS 60 Minutes, Sunday August 25, 2013)?

    Is the bank one of the organizations that has engaged in ‘robot’ signing of documents? What is the bank’s attitude to making a meaningful difference in the communities it serves? Are there any meaningful metrics about the impact the bank has on the communities it serves?

    Maybe TD Bank is different … but everything I know about modern banking suggests that they take a whole lot more than they give. If TD Bank is really different, I would like to see metrics that show this … and metrics that can be validated in some way by the public at large and someone like me.

    Peter Burgess TrueValueMetrics