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Sustainability has become a hot topic in the business world. Business owners and stakeholders put more pressure on their employees to make a sustainable work culture. For every business, sustainability has become a major key point and an integral part of the operation. There are many reasons why sustainability has become more important these days. Sustainability in business is the same as sustainability in other phases of life. The ability to use resources so that they don’t get damaged or depleted. 

Many business owners lack a clear understanding of how to embed sustainability in their everyday activities and decisions. Sustainable development can be used together but at the same time have different meanings. Although, both can be used interchangeably which means – meeting the needs of the present without limiting the ability of the future ones in meeting their own needs. Similarly, organizational culture is also an important thing business owners discuss. 

To build a sustainable work culture, your organizational culture must be intact. What is organizational culture? They are the set of beliefs, ideologies, attitudes, and processes held by people involved or make up an organization. It can be created, passed across, or influenced by practices and policies. It is the organizational culture that guides the decisions of every member of an organization. Organizational culture also gives every member a sense of identity. As individuals, we know that our acts add up to form a collective impact. 

What is Sustainable work culture? 

Sustainable work culture is a set of beliefs held by the people that make up an organization for the sake of present performance and future relevance. It also means achieving living and working conditions that help people while working and remaining in work for a lengthy period of life. Availability for work differs among individuals and that could change throughout life. The idea of sustainability is to match the needs and abilities of individual employees. 

It is not only about working efficiently now, it is about “Now and The Future”. We can have an abundance of resources at the moment, but nobody knows the future. Change is constant in life and what happens when these changes occur? There are lots of things that can trigger change – government policy, market structure, natural disasters, and human mistakes. Sustainable work culture is such that protects the future of the organization without affecting the present operation. Employees’ health and well-being are also a part of the sustainable work culture. 

That leads us to a sustainable workplace. 

What is a sustainable workplace? 

A sustainable workplace prioritizes the goal of balancing the earth, people, and profit to produce success and viability in the long term. Employees spent more hours at work than they do at home or elsewhere, especially those that don’t work remotely. A sustainable work environment makes a long and stressful day enjoyable for workers. Organizations have an important role to play in this aspect because they decide the operational scope. 

In simple terms, a business can be regarded as unsustainable if it fails to have quality regard for the health, safety, and welfare of its employees and the general people. A healthy workplace produces motivated and happier employees. While some people think having a comfortable working environment is a product of wishful thinking, we have seen improvements in some of our companies. Even newly set up firms and organization are not setting up their offices in a way that brings comfort to their employees. The expectation of every organization to generate profits – paying minimum wage, shifting schedules, opening branches, etc. 

Research has shown that companies who invest in a healthy and sustainable work environment perform better than conventional ones. There are lots of advantages to having a healthy and sustainable work culture. Part of them include: 

-          Improved dressing and attitude: An employee would not just dress casually to work knowing the quality of the workplace. If a workplace is designed to be of quality in arrangement and design, it helps the workers to improve their ways of dressing. If a workplace is not conducive and untidy, it wouldn’t influence the workers. 

-          High talent recruitment and retention: Not only is the job prospect that attracts talents, but the quality of the workplace also plays an important role. 

-          Consumer confidence: This is not necessary to be said in words, a quality workplace improves consumer confidence. Consumers can easily boycott products and services produced by companies that are irresponsible to human, social, and environmental sustainability. 

Sustainable work culture

7 ways to build a sustainable work culture 

As earlier said, many business owners don’t know how to embed sustainability in their work operations, although they want it. Instead of racking your brain and feeling pressured into not doing things right, follow these simple ways. 

1.       Make it fun 

People are generally motivated when they are happy. Generally, the workplace and activities are to be seriously done and not done with levity. But as business owners, find ways to build fun into your sustainability plans. Like people will say “All work and no play make jack a dull boy” and people also say “there is time for everything”. You can create your ways of making the activities fun and interactive. Generally, we are drawn to activities that are enjoyable or entertaining. Creating a practical environment with conscious activities that bring employees together. Also, creating a healthy competition among employees with rewards can make it fun. 

2.       Keep it simple 

Simplicity is genius. Keep your activities simple and easy for employees and end users of your product and services. We tend to avoid anything that looks complex and difficult. Over the years, many companies have received negative reviews for trying to overdo. We can create a positive behavior change by making sustainable options and making wasteful behaviors more difficult. 

3.       Use feedback and surveys 

Feedbacks and surveys are ways to know the concerns of your employees and how your plans are going. Do not assume that people like everything you are doing. To know the true intent of their minds, make the surveys anonymous so that people can tell you how they feel. Asking for feedback also allows you to do things in different ways. You can ask for suggestions on how to make the work easier and better options. 

4.       Start small 

To build a long-lasting habit and culture at work, start with small tasks. Things that are easy to do and habits that are not too cumbersome. Small goals are the key to major transformations. Simple tasks that are not seen as a big deal help to change orientation. Starting small helps to break strong resistance and change people in the process of completion. Time is a factor in developing a sustainable work culture. 

5.       Show people that you care 

Sustaining your business requires that you show concern for the environment and people. With time, people will start boycotting companies that are not environmentally friendly and care for people. Show that you prioritize people more than the profits you are making. Make them feel valued, especially your customers. 

6.       Give back to the people 

Aside from making them feel important, find ways to give back to society. It could be part of your initial plan for the short-term and long-term plan. Giving back to society is one thing major companies are adopting. 

7.       Constantly remind people of their values 

As business owners, you are not dealing with your employees only. Your customers and also potential customers are part of the people you should put into consideration. People can easily for their values and act out of context. Constantly remind your employees of the company’s core values and also your customers of the values you are offering. Sometimes, some initiative is not only about making money in return, it could be a means of advertising and sensitizing people. 

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Examples of sustainable businesses to follow 

IKEA – IKEA is one of the few business examples in the world that are committed to sustainability. The furniture giant appeals to employees, customers, and stakeholders through its sustainability practices. They conform to rules and regulations of the environment and maximize their raw materials. 

UNILEVER – Unilever is one of the multinational businesses in the world. The British company has a sustainable business strategy that cuts across all of its operations. From their extraction of raw materials, supply chain, production, and distribution. They are also environmentally and human friendly. 

PANASONIC – Panasonic sits high on the list of sustainable businesses in the world. They have constantly been admired by experts because of their efforts to reduce environmental impact. Panasonic has ways of conveying their employees to work to reduce their carbon footprint. 

PATAGONIA – Another example is Patagonia. They encourage people to recycle, reuse and repair their products instead of buying a replacement. They do this to reduce waste deposition. 

IBM – IBM has been investing in corporate social responsibility and environmental stewardship since the 1960s. They have smart strategies to reduce their demands for natural resources. 

Other business examples include Allergan, Seventh Generation, New Belgium Brewing, Adobe, Nike, PepsiCo, Ford Motor, General Mills, and Xylem. All of these companies have not only prioritized profit but also the environment and people with their sustainability plans. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. What are the areas that sustainable work culture affects? Sustainable work culture impacts a company’s ability to grow, innovate, hire talents, retain talents and increase productivity. 

2. Characteristics of sustainable work culture. Sustainable work culture must be transparent, and visible, balance work and life, team building, and development. 

3. Signs of bad sustainable work culture. They include high turnover, unhappy employees, failures in meeting goals and deadlines, and low productivity. 

Investing in sustainable work culture is classified as one that will profit the organization in a long term. Looking at the examples given above, these companies are appealing to both their employees and the customers buying from them. When sustainable work culture is well developed and integrated, employees become active in their roles and move the company forward. 

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