Integrate Sustainability into the Work Place

Sustainability is now the overarching principle of Cornell’s Skills for Success...

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Sustainability in the Work Place is an Innovation goal in the Cornell Climate Action Plan (CAP).

Integrate sustainability as an overarching principle into the performance management process.

Goal: Integrate sustainability and climate action into the annual objectives and job expectations of every employee in order to foster a culture of sustainability at Cornell.

Kathryn Burkgren and Chris Halladay, discuss staff development. (Robert Barker/University Photography)
Kathryn Burkgren and Chris Halladay, discuss staff development. (Robert Barker/University Photography)

In 2013, the Division of Human Resources revised the university-wide guidance document for employee expectations, “Skills for Success,” to include sustainability as an overarching principle. The new Skills for Success ask all employees to: 1) develop and implement best practices, 2) encourage others to adopt a culture of sustainability and efficiency, and 3) consider environmental, economic, compliance and social impacts in decision-making. In order to fully embrace these changes, every Staff Position Description will include the updated Skills for Success. The goal is to make employees aware of the long-term and far-reaching impacts of acting sustainably, and to know how they can most effectively contribute to a culture of sustainability through their day-to-day decisions and actions.

The performance management process, including the annual performance review process, has also been revised to align with the new Skills. The updated performance review process is set to launch in 2014, with full implementation university-wide by 2015. Demonstration of the new skills – including sustainability – will soon become a performance expectation for every Cornell employee.

Next steps include training managers and supervisors on how sustainability and climate action can be integrated into their work places to support these new expectations. The new Sustainability Module in the Cornell Management Academy was designed to provide hands-on training for our supervisory staff, by:
1) Demonstrating how sustainability fits into Cornell’s culture
2) Communicating Cornell’s vision and a manager’s role in fostering sustainability
3) Giving managers tools to encourage sustainable practices in their units
4) Identifying interests, passions, and skills related to sustainability, and
5) Developing plans for integrating sustainability into their units

Next Steps

  • Create outreach programs to help employees fully appreciate the importance of sustainability in the work place and its implications on their daily actions.
  • Provide tools for all supervisors to integrate sustainability into their work places and the performance management process.
  • Develop strategies to evaluate the success of the outreach and tools described above.


Develop metrics to measure success and find the most effective ways to provide training to campus supervisors.