What makes a sustainability leader? Meet employee engagement champions CBRE

With edie's 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards ceremony on the horizon, this series showcases the achievements of previous winners and reveals their secrets to success. Up next: Winner of our Employee Engagement and Behaviour Change Award, CBRE.


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What makes a sustainability leader? Meet employee engagement champions CBRE

Ready to follow in CBRE's footsteps? Make sure you have tickets to the 2022 Awards ceremony on 30 March

CBRE’s All Greens is an employee network running across all 19 of the organisation’s offices and offering two tiers of membership: ‘engaged’ – employees interested in sustainability, and ‘involved’ – volunteers to drive the network. Members are divided into those running events and challenges, those leading projects – internal and with universities – and those helping with communication.

What sets the All Greens apart is its scale, strategic positioning, and psychological underpinning. It is open to every employee, runs monthly events, regular strategic projects, is embedded into the business’ corporate governance and is based on the COM-B model – the latest behavioural science in social norms, nudge theory and gamification.

The All Greens helps CBRE achieve a lot more than it could otherwise through leveraging the expertise of staff at scale. It gives the business greater bandwidth to run more projects to a higher standard and more easily across offices, raise awareness of and involvement in its initiatives, and communicate more effectively. The programme is supporting CBRE in becoming a more responsible business, and strategically into its ESG governance.

The business uses several proven psychological methods for engagement. These include profiling – CBRE uses the 3Us framework to track ‘understanding’, ‘usefulness’ and ‘unity’ for employees. From this, the business has set up a two-tiered system to allow for engagement and involvement and cater for both competitive and cooperative preferences. Another method used is the endowment affect – all employees in CBRE’s network share how they want it to run to give a sense of ownership and allow them to drive the issues they care about.

All Greens also uses gamification to drive engagement with CBRE’s strategy, using Obliquity’s Stickerbook digital platform to nudge and track meaningful engagement, and using challenges and rewards to incentivise action. And it uses the Mere Measurement Effect, via DoNation’s platform, to encourage people to make pledges in their own lives.

 CBRE measures success by profiling and understanding baseline data via an initial welcome survey, which is used to understand employees’ motivations and so on. The business then conducts gamified ‘cross-sectional and pulse’ surveys to track awareness and buy-in. It also gamifies involvement, for example by hosting challenges to suggest improvements and listing those performing the worst in areas like, for example, high-carbon commuting. The business also tracks membership and attendance – generally and at each monthly event – and reports the initiative’s successes to the board. Engagement across each board member’s business line is also tracked and discussed.

The network runs across 19 offices so, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, it was set up to be virtual and, anecdotally, the network has given employees a platform to stay connected and engaged whilst working remotely. The initiative has had an impact at both the company (macro) and project (micro) level. For example, 100% of employees in all offices and jurisdictions are now able to help shape and achieve CBRE’s net-zero aims.

When CBRE submitted its application for the 2021 Sustainability Leaders Awards, 27% of employees had undertaken strategic training in the business’ sustainability strategy and 61 employees had volunteered to be heavily involved and help shape and drive the sustainability strategy. Additionally, the business had already formed research relationships with Kings College London, Imperial College, and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, saved carbon equivalent to 34 car journeys around the world, saved 6,892,899 litres of bottled water, and saved 10,654 wheelie bins of waste.

 Key learnings from the scheme include: Engagement must be simple and rewarding yet aligned to strategic action to be meaningful, relying on tested behavioural science techniques is critical to creating engagement, and setting up a strategic network takes time but is self-sustainable. CBRE has a formal sustainability engagement strategy and has hired a dedicated sustainability engagement lead.

Communications channels used to raise awareness of the scheme include Microsoft Teams for the management, DoNation for personal pledges and Obliquity’s Stickerbook for strategic gamification and engagement. CBRE does use central comms support to drive awareness, but more heavily leans on the snowball or peer-to-peer methods, as this has been found to be more trusted and effective. As employees are the most trusted sustainability ambassador, they are encouraged to share and engage with content on social media.

Going forward, CBRE aims to share learnings with its clients to encourage best practice in behaviour change to help more organisations achieve their ambitions.

What edie’s judges said: “CBRE’s All Greens programme stood out for its broad scale of engagement and its board-to-intern reach across the business. The organisation has used behavioural science to shape the initiative, and utilised ‘gamification’ techniques to engage employees. The impact was really clear, which made this entry really stand out in the category.”


Join the celebrations at edie’s 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards ceremony!

Now in its 15th year, the world’s largest sustainable business awards scheme champions bold and brilliant climate leadership. From the best net-zero carbon programmes through to cutting-edge product innovations – winning an edie Sustainability Leaders Award empowers teams, inspires stakeholders and accelerates sustainable business growth.

edie will be announcing the winners of the 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards at a live ceremony on the evening of 30 March at the Park Plaza London, Westminster. It is highly recommended that you book your place at the Awards as soon as you are able to (premium tables are limited).

Click here to view a full list of the shortlisted entries for this year’s Awards. 


edie Staff 

© Faversham House Ltd 2022 edie news articles may be copied or forwarded for individual use only. No other reproduction or distribution is permitted without prior written consent.

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