Case Study: Smithfield Foods –Annual Sustainability Excellence Awards
Companies can use recognition and reward to connect with employees in order to generate employee enthusiasm for a variety of programs, including sustainability initiatives. When Smithfield Foods began developing its sustainability program, it became apparent that significant efforts to conserve resources, reduce waste, and interact with the local community were already in place at many of its facilities. As Smithfield’s programs evolved and the results materialized, management decided it would be appropriate to recognize and reward the employees and projects that best represented company objectives. In addition to recognition for work well done, this process could serve to motivate other facilities and highlight best practices across the company.
To that end, Smithfield Foods developed a Sustainability Excellence Awards program. The program is simple and straightforward consisting of a submission form and a set of scoring criteria. Employees who have been involved in a sustainability project are eligible to submit project information for award consideration. Depending on the project, this information might include costs, savings, resource conservation and waste reduction achievements, and social impacts. All the submitted information is saved and compiled making it available for other data management purposes.
Submissions are reviewed and scored by the corporate Environmental Affairs team. Twelve to fifteen winners (out of what has grown to 120 – 150 submissions each year) are selected annually and recognized at an awards banquet held in conjunction with the company’s annual Environmental and Sustainability Training Conference. In addition to plaques and certificates, each winning project receives $5,000 which helps to inspire further employee participation. The $5,000 is apportioned between the project participants ($2,000 split equally among participants) and a local charity (the remaining $3,000) chosen by the project team. All project submissions are posted on the company’s intranet site which helps to identify additional sites suitable for similar projects and serve as inspiration for new ideas.
The Smithfield Foods Sustainability Excellence Awards program has been a significant success. Facilities across the company submit applications and compete with projects and programs that have become an integral part of Smithfield’s overall sustainability efforts.
[This case study was featured in the GEMI Quick Guide for Engaging Employees in Sustainability.]