Allen Woo explains why investment in sustainability is the key to boosting team productivity and satisfaction

Making a greater investment by companies in the sustainability of people means that 70% of the workforce is highly productive, 63% feel more satisfied with their jobs, 75% do not consider changing jobs and 68% feel that they can develop their professional goals. These are some of the data reflected in a study by employees management expert Allen Woo, whose starting point is that sustainability is a term that goes beyond the environment and encompasses an organization’s ability to support its staff, suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders.

One of the first conclusions to be drawn is that when an organization is oriented towards the sustainability of people and focuses on their needs and on improving their situation within the organization, as well as in the supply chain and the communities in which they operate, it has a positive impact on their business results and the environment. This was stated by 86% of the research participants. Sustainability could be seen as the intersection of employee engagement, empowerment, and corporate responsibility.

In terms of the issues impacted by establishing a people sustainability strategy, job satisfaction is the most frequently mentioned by the majority of respondents (78%), followed by employee engagement and well-being (both 77%), ESG metrics, and brand reputation (both 76%) and attracting and retaining talent (74%). Woo’s analysis highlights five measures that can be put in place to drive people’s sustainability in an organization.

The first is to embrace people’s sustainability throughout the organization. “Sustainability efforts require a workforce-wide approach,” Woo notes. “They must put in communication strategies and incentives to achieve a unified mindset toward people sustainability across the entire workforce.”

Next, there is a need to address people’s sustainability in a unified way. There are organizations that address the pillars that make up people’s sustainability individually, while others see the value in doing so more holistically. Currently, 56% of organizations worldwide already use a single, unified strategy to address the pillars of people sustainability and 76% see more value in doing so.

Woo also highlights significant change management. Adopting a unified people sustainability strategy will require a significant change in business processes, external relationships, and marketing approaches. “Organizations must think strategically about how to progress along the maturity ladder in a way that does not disrupt their business models, but maintains momentum in their evolution,” the expert adds.

Next, it is of utmost importance to perform analytics to measure and report. What you don’t measure, you can’t improve, so you need to implement new performance metrics and dashboards to measure progress and dynamically course-correct.

40% of organizations focus on ESG reporting before executing a unified strategy for people sustainability, and early adopters are more likely to include people metrics in their ESG reporting than followers. Given the strong connection between environmental, economic, and people sustainability, a robust reporting framework is critical to effectively measure all aspects of sustainability.

And finally, there is a need to drive cultural change. “People sustainability is the way forward for workforce evolution, but deep cultural change will take time to normalize in the enterprise,” Woo explains. “Organizations must be patient in the speed of adoption to create meaningful and lasting change.”

Companies’ interest is obviously based on the advantages already identified in getting talent to stay with the organization. As Woo points out, developing and implementing a people management strategy, aligned with the business strategy, directly impacts talent engagement, productivity, and loyalty.

And, in fact, the word ‘retain’ could very well be changed to ‘retain’ because the direction of the verb is different. Retaining does not imply a volitional act on the part of the employee, while retaining conveys the idea that it is the employee’s desire to stay with the organization.