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Sustainability and Employee Retention: A Winning Combination for Businesses
14 November 2023
In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, employees look at companies with a discerning eye and pay close attention to how they incorporate sustainable practices into their daily operations. As a business, sustainability serves as a tool by which we measure our impact and it offers a path to assess the interconnectedness of environmental responsibility, social well-being, and economic growth. Ultimately, it sets us apart from other businesses and confers our potential competitive advantage. Employees want to have a mission worth championing. At the same time, employers are seeking a stable, talented workforce to enhance the company’s ability to adapt to changing market conditions. There’s symbiosis in the relationship between increased sustainability efforts and employee retention. For employers, finding strategies to optimise sustainability offers employees a mission and purpose worth latching onto. Simultaneously, it enhances loyalty and commitment to the company.
THE LINK BETWEEN SUSTAINABILITY AND EMPLOYEE RETENTION
More than ever, employees want to have their identities and values aligned with how their company does business. And employers are responsible for keeping their employees satisfied and productive — all of which can be leveraged through internal sustainability initiatives.
This commitment requires companies to look internally and understand what matters to their employees and stakeholders. By leveraging sustainable business practices that are material, companies can demonstrate their dedication to making a positive difference. This helps attract employees who want to be part of that mission, which, in turn, strengthens the company’s brand, reputation, and value alignment.
CREATING A SUSTAINABLE WORK ENVIRONMENT
Furthermore, effective employee retention can be enhanced dramatically by a company’s ESG (environmental, social, and governance) initiatives. With a warming climate and heightened awareness surrounding social and environmental issues, employees want to know that their company is doing its part in fostering a diverse and eco-friendly space.
eMPLOYEE INPUT AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY
How can this be achieved? Ask your employees what changes they want to see. Energy-efficient equipment in physical workspaces, utilising renewable energy sources, encouraging waste reduction, and recycling are great places to start.
Employers can also offer incentives for sustainable transportation, such as carpooling and public transit, or eliminate the commute altogether by encouraging remote work options.
SOCIAL WELL-BEING AND DEI INITIATIVES
Companies can promote work-life balance by discussing the importance of setting boundaries, offering mental health initiatives, and subsidising wellness programs.
Arguably most important, is setting DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) targets, emphasising the value of an inclusive work environment that respects and celebrates differences.
EMPOWERING EMPLOYEES FOR SUSTAINABLE SUCCESS
Investing in your employees can provide substantial benefits to your company and can be critical to long-term success. High employee turnover, for instance, not only results in a financial loss but also a loss of valuable institutional knowledge.
By focusing on retaining talented individuals, companies can reduce recruitment and training expenses and allocate resources to initiatives that promote long-term growth and innovation.
One way to invest in your employees is to offer tangible growth opportunities. By encouraging employees to take on leadership roles, learn new skills, and increase their responsibilities, they become more confident and effective individuals. Simultaneously, employers eliminate the risk of stagnation and disengagement among their staff.
In a study conducted by MIT, researchers found employees who engage in professional development not only exhibit enhanced productivity, but also contribute enormously to company profitability. In this study, the MIT Sloan School of Management found that “an employer’s year-long training program led to a roughly 250% return on investment within eight months.”
In the quest to retain talent, prioritising employee development serves as a distinct commitment to nurturing the well-being of your staff and the overall growth of the company.
PROMOTING A SUSTAINABLE CORPORATE CULTURE
An African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Achieving a strong sense of company culture and togetherness is essential in retaining talent and fostering a sense of loyalty within your team. Ultimately, this sentiment is set by leadership (the tone from the top). Upper management plays a large role in eliminating silos within the company and ensuring congruency between departments and people.
Above all else, employers must recognise that their teams have lives outside of their jobs. Their employees need to know their free time is valued just as much as the work they produce internally. Offering flexible hours and challenging the 9-to-5 schedule can be pivotal in retaining talent and cultivating trust. In addition, taking breaks from work can result in enhanced creativity, productivity, engagement, and loyalty in the workplace.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT
Profits don’t have to come at the expense of a company’s stakeholders and employees. Investing in your employees is mutually beneficial to your organisation. At the end of the day, happy employees produce better work.
By cultivating a work environment that encourages personal growth, loyalty, and longevity, organisations can enhance their adaptiveness to market changes and maintain a competitive edge while retaining their valuable workforce.
Published by Morison Global member, Jaclyn Sherman, Sensiba, USA (Morison Global member)
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