CEF Spotlight

Four Strategies for Successful Employee Engagement: Lessons from Caesars CodeGreen

By Gwen Migita, Vice President of Sustainability and Community Affairs, Caesars Entertainment

Caesars EntertainmentAt Caesars Entertainment Corporation (CEC), we set out to improve the company’s triple bottom line with our CodeGreen sustainability strategy. Since the inception of CodeGreen six years ago, employees at the property, regional, and enterprise-wide level have garnered nearly 90 certifications and awards for engagement, supply chain, water, energy, and overall programs. It is their commitment to CodeGreen that has allowed us to achieve our sustainability goals and make great strides towards our long-term targets. 

We are proud of our employees’ enthusiasm and commitment to CodeGreen. It has taken a lot of planning and hard work to earn this level of engagement, but it continues to be an incredibly rewarding process. To celebrate our accomplishment in this area, I’d like to share several strategies that have helped us get where we are today:

1. Establish engagement as a strategic pillar
2. Implement a steering-rowing structure
3. Foster grassroots participation
4. Embed incentives and recognition

These four strategies have led to innovative solutions and positive social, environmental, and financial outcomes for the company. 

1. Employee Engagement as a Strategic Pillar

In 2007, before Caesars had a formal sustainability strategy in place, employees began to take measures to better manage operational costs to a declining economy, in addition to a growing breed of environmentally and socially aware consumers. At the property level, they began developing creative ways to improve efficiencies, reduce energy consumption and waste, and increase recycling. Executives noticed these practices by local employees, and realized that organizational alignment was needed. CodeGreen began shortly thereafter, with the first six months of the program focusing on quick wins through employee-driven energy reduction. 

As the foundation for CodeGreen was rooted in employees from the very beginning, it made sense that engagement be one of the guiding principles of the strategy. CodeGreen was therefore defined by the three pillars that shape the program to this day: stakeholder communication and engagement, core environmental performance, and organizational commitment and alignment. Integrating engagement as a strategic pillar in the sustainability strategy has kept it a constant focal point, even as goals and initiatives change over time.

2. Steering & Rowing Structure

The organizational relationship between corporate and property sustainability leaders mimics the steering and rowing roles of a crew. The CodeGreen Steering Committee, made up of corporate leaders and executives from operations, advises on the annual CodeGreen strategic direction, and sets measurable environmental goals for the company. Chairman, CEO, and President Gary Loveman is the sponsor of the CodeGreen Steering Committee. His commitment and leadership has helped elevate environmental sustainability to a company-wide priority. 

Once the annual strategy is set forth by the CodeGreen Steering Committee, the CodeGreen Leader at each property directs a CodeGreen Team representing seven departments (e.g. food and beverage, marketing, housekeeping, etc.) to execute it. The CodeGreen Leaders are appointed by property leadership to inspire and coordinate employee engagement with specific property initiatives. 

3. Grassroots Participation

Competition also breeds grassroots innovation. CodeGreen environmental and social impact data is collected by property, collated quarterly, and reported to all property managers and company management. At the property level, managers review results with their teams and prioritize actions to improve performance. There is a healthy competitive spirit between properties, so in addition to a commitment to efficient operations and a passion for protecting the environment, property managers are encouraged to challenge their peers to do better.

4. Incentives & Recognition

A key challenge to employee engagement in sustainability is keeping employees passionate about the cause. Tools such as CodeGreen Rewards online, offered by Practically Green, support individual employee actions at work and in the home via a mobile app. Another program, CodeGreen At Home, gives employees the option of submitting conservation projects they have implemented outside of work such as recycling electronics or switching to energy-efficient windows. Participants receive reward credits that are redeemable for travel, events, and merchandise. Since the inception of the reward program over three years ago, $80,000 in credits have been granted. With these initiatives and others, corporate and property CodeGreen Leaders celebrate employee commitment. 

Impact of Employee Engagement

At Caesars, we have found that successful employee engagement in CodeGreen positively impacts our triple bottom line. Employee Opinion Survey results show that employee involvement in CodeGreen activities correlates with higher scores in several key job satisfaction measures, including pride, supervisor satisfaction, willingness to recommend, ethical leadership, loyalty, and discretionary effort. Employee satisfaction shows in our turnover rate as well (16.1% for U.S. employees), which is well below the industry average at around 22% (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Customer satisfaction is also linked to employee engagement. A study conducted by Harvard Business School found that customer loyalty and satisfaction – that is, customers’ willingness to return to one of our hotels or casinos and their overall experience – is directly linked to employees’ level of participation in sustainable activities at work.

We cannot discuss employee engagement in CodeGreen without acknowledging the tremendous effect it has had on our environmental impact. From 2007 to 2012, Caesars reduced electricity consumption per square foot of air-conditioned space by 20%. By the end of 2012, the company reduced carbon emissions to the atmosphere by 12% and diverted 24% of waste away from landfills. 

It is these tangible social, environmental, and financial results that prove the value of an effective employee engagement strategy. For more information about our employee engagement and sustainability initiatives, please see our latest CSR and Sustainability Report.

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