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Thought Leadership | August 23, 2021

Capturing Our Employees’ Best Ideas Through GoodWorks

John Fitzgerald, EVP, Operations

At Rheem, employee creativity fuels new ideas and innovation, from product development to process improvements to engaging our people. And nowhere is employee creativity more important than in the pursuit of our 2025 sustainability goals.

Our aim is to tap into the creativity of our more than 10,000 employees, spread across 18 countries to ideate and elevate the very best sustainability ideas.

That’s where our newly launched GoodWorks Explorers program comes in. It gives all employees who want to contribute to Rheem’s sustainability journey a platform to share their ideas. By connecting them directly with GoodWorks Ambassadors working on greenhouse gas emissions in our products and plants, zero waste to landfill and sustainability training, GoodWorks provides employees with a window into how their ideas can contribute to their business’s progress and the global company’s broader efforts.

“We’ve made a lot of progress on our sustainability goals, but we saw an opportunity to go even further by making good use of our most important creative resource—our people,” explains Sara Corbett, Director, Brand Strategy and Sustainability. “GoodWorks promotes engagement, alignment and accountability, which means everyone can contribute, from entry-level employees to senior management; ensuring all businesses are making progress on our established sustainability goals; and communication to keep our global businesses informed about sustainability achievements across the company.”

Since we launched GoodWorks this Spring, 26 Rheem locations have formalized their GoodWorks Explorers groups or committed to a date by which they will.

How the Program Works

GoodWorks supports our global sustainability initiative, A Greater Degree of Good, by harnessing the creativity of our employees and offering a mechanism to identify great ideas and then share them across the organization.

It starts with GoodWorks Explorers, hourly and salaried employee volunteers from any department who are passionate about sustainability at Rheem. They meet regularly to come up with ideas to promote sustainability initiatives at the local level, and share key progress at quarterly GoodWorks Ambassador meetings.

At Rheem’s Fort Smith, Arkansas, site, Dan Partin, Senior Engineering Manager, Sustainability, & Asset Management, is gearing up to call for Explorer volunteers. He expects many of the plant’s hourly workers to raise their hands.

“Our plant workers have a different vantage point than I do and will bring unique ideas that someone like me may not even think of,” he says. “Having this diversity of perspectives, experiences and backgrounds is absolutely key.”

Explorers work with GoodWorks Ambassadors within each global business who are responsible for meeting our 2025 goals. They meet at a regular cadence to share progress on key sustainability activities. They then present ideas and updates to their local leadership at quarterly Sustainability Steering Committee meetings. This helps to ensure progress on sustainability goals and alignment on key decisions.

Finally, Rheem’s Executive Sustainability Steering Committee meets bi-annually to address global progress on our goals, discuss new idea and approaches, as well as key sustainability opportunities and challenges.

“We are intent on making sure GoodWorks doesn’t just help employees feel like what they’re doing matters, but making sure it actually does,” Partin says.

Explorers and Ambassadors from across sites will have a chance to come together virtually later this year at a Global Sustainability Summit to share best practices and lessons learned across the company.

Success Means More Than Achieving Our Goals

According to a recent study by McKinsey, people who live their purpose at work are more productive than people who don’t. They are also healthier, more resilient, and more likely to stay at the company.

The same study found that when employees feel that their purpose is aligned with the organization’s purpose, the benefits expand to include stronger employee engagement, heightened loyalty, and a greater willingness to recommend the company to others. In fact, 63% of people surveyed said they want their employer to provide more opportunities for purpose in their day-to-day work.

“Meeting our sustainability goals is important but so is employee satisfaction,” says Partin. “My hope is for GoodWorks to lift employees’ voices so that they are heard at higher levels than ever before, and for employees to be directly engaged in something they care about personally. Success for me is at this personal level, and I know we can get there.”

To learn more, watch our GoodWorks video.