Survey: American Workers Want Sustainable Employers

A new study on workplace values shows American workers seek employment with organizations that are both financially successful and mindful about their impact on and commitment to protecting the environment.

A public opinion survey conducted by Harris Interactive National Quorum on behalf of Interface, Inc. (Nasdaq: IFSIA) reveals that 63% of full-time workers believe a company’s impact on the environment is vital when evaluating a new workplace, and 61% say the same about the company’s profit margin. Meanwhile, an even greater majority -71% – value a commitment to sustainability, defined in this study as "environmental protection," as an important or very important criteria.

"There is broad recognition that companies that focus on sustainability, or protecting and preserving the environment, are appealing to American workers," said Dan Hendrix, president and CEO of Interface. "Profits are obviously the lifeblood of any company, but what we see here is that employees want their organizations to have more purpose. These results speak to a lasting trend about the kind of long-term-focused organizations that employees want to belong to."

This telephone study was conducted between February 23 and 27, 2011 among 504 U.S. adults employed full-time to learn and share opinion for ideals about workplace preferences.

The study also revealed gender disparities in how employees evaluate potential employers. For instance, 78% of female employees felt a company’s impact on the environment was particularly important, while 52% of male workers believed the same.

These findings could point to an opportunity for organizations focused on reducing their impacts on the environment to attract and retain women in leadership positions.

Other results showed the extent to which employees feel engaged with their current companies. National findings carried an overall optimistic tone despite the still-challenging economic climate, with:

  • 81% of full-time workers saying they are familiar with their company’s mission statement.
  • 84% of full-time workers agreeing that the company they work for shares their views on what is important in life.
  • 64% of full-time employees claiming involvement in company initiatives outside the scope of their everyday responsibilities.

Interface, a leader in design, production and sales of environmentally responsible modular carpet, offered the results of its survey in conjunction with recent openings of its new manufacturing facility in Taicang, China and a new FLOR retail store in the SoHo district of New York City.

The study reflected U.S. workers’ sentiments about business and the environment in both countries with 76% of U.S. full-time workers believing that businesses based in the U.S. are implementing policies that protect and preserve the environment. On the other hand, only 25% of full-time U.S. workers believe the same about businesses based in China.

On March 24, Interface opened its newest InterfaceFLOR commercial factory in Taicang, China with a focus on sustainable design, quality customer service, efficient operations and premium products. The Taicang manufacturing facility will supply carpet products that have high recycled content–specifically for the greater China market. Instead of building from the ground up, an existing building was re-furbished and upgraded with equipment in-line with the same environmental standards of Interface manufacturing systems worldwide. The building adheres to the design specifications of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction (LEED-NC) accreditation program.

Similarly, on March 31, Interface opened a new retail store for its FLOR residential products in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, establishing a brand presence in one of the most influential design hubs in the world. The newest FLOR store offers the opportunity to experience the beauty and benefits of the FLOR design system in an environmentally-progressive retail space. For the new store, designers altered the existing spaces as little as possible, used locally-sourced labor and materials, as well as energy efficient lighting throughout.

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