Transitioning Back to Work Better through Sustainability
Thinking larger as we transition back to work.
How can you have a larger impact as a leader whilst re-engaging your employees on the path to working and building better? One such opportunity that is presenting itself across organizations is sustainable development. Sustainable development encompasses the need for climate action, diversity and inclusion, gender equity, the health and safety of employees, transparency and governance across organizational value chains, as well as building communities that can thrive alongside organizations. The first step forward is engaging employees on sustainability at a personal and then professional level. Engaging employees on the connection between health and well-being and sustainable living can enable organizations to personalize sustainability for employees.
There is no better opportunity to create a good and meaningful life than by living sustainably.
Living sustainably has its impact on employee health and well-being through dietary and product choices, on emotional well-being as employees seek to manage their physical and mental well-being through home office and workspace design that connects to nature, and on financial well-being, through responsible consumption and living for a larger purpose.
Clearly, sustainable living not only impacts our health and wellbeing, but also provides us the opportunity to create meaningful impact through our choices. This impact extends from the environment, to those near and far who are connected to the products we use.
Purposeful consumption suggests that we think about what truly adds value to our lives. According to the World Economic Forum: “Conscious consumption is not just about what we wear. It is all encompassing: where we live, how we move, the food and drink we consume, how its ingredients have been grown, processed, and packaged, and what happens to the leftovers when we are done consuming.”
Being a responsible consumer is about making well informed choices that reflect our values and beliefs about ourselves, other people, and our world. Our choices here and today, can have an impact on all those connected to the products we consume and on the environment for years to come.
In your capacity as a leader, the responsibility exists to enable this personal connection to sustainable living and to transition this mindset to sustainable development within the organization.
Many organizations are discussing how they can embed and engage stakeholders on the principles of ESG-environmental, social and corporate governance. In the middle of ESG is social governance or the enablement of people.
Of importance is:
How organizations can holistically empower their employees-providing meaningful experiences at work? Opportunities include both engaging in purpose-driven innovation for consumers and engaging communities through corporate social responsibility. Employees who can align their interests, values and beliefs at work are more likely to find purpose in their activities. In turn, higher purpose and positive impact on others is more likely to be associated with higher overall well-being at work, higher employee engagement, motivation, and sense of fulfillment.
The responsibility of organizations to protect all those who support the organization across its value chain (including suppliers). The responsibility of organizations extends well beyond the boundaries of the organization to include suppliers and their suppliers. Ensuring that suppliers are meeting both human rights and working to protect planetary health, is a commitment increasingly expected of organizations engaging these partners and a matter of brand development (if not protection).
Designing for the whole consumer-ensure that products and services augment the quality of life of consumers, without compromising planetary health, and in turn the long-term welfare of people. This includes designing for end of life management, where consumers are empowered to reduce their footprint through right to repair programs, repurposing and upcycling program development by organizations, in additional to refurbishing and recycling initiatives.
How the 17 sustainable development goals can provide an overarching framework for the development of health, inclusive, and prosperous communities. Working collaboratively with other stakeholders, organizations will need to address how to build resilient systems (resource management, food production, cities, and transportation systems) that are increasingly under stress from global and climate change.
Expectations from consumers and investors will necessitate the management of organizational activities to ensure that these activities are indeed in line with planetary health requirements. The tracking of key metrics and the sharing of data with interested stakeholders to validate organizational activities, is what is captured by "governance". Consumers, investors, and even employees, will increasingly be concerned with the carbon footprint and human toll of the products and services they consume, invest in, and produce. These expectations and concerns should drive new strategy development, business model re-innovation, as well as sustainable innovation.
Going back to work better means engaging people better, thinking and acting larger. Is your organization ready for the challenge?
Ask your employees and consumers what they want from your organization to chart the path forward on purpose and sustainability.