Health, safety, business productivity, and sustainability are priorities for most organizations. Keeping employees healthy and safe, business productivity and sustainability will always rise. Sustainability is often shown as a concept associated with mainly environmental activities and decisions, but it is a lot more than just that. Sustainability of a workplace is also about people, they are the most vital resource a business can have. Keeping this in mind, it is obvious an organization will not be sustainable unless they promote the welfare, health, and safety of their employees.
What are the benefits of workplace health, safety, business productivity, and sustainability? Investing in the health and safety of a workplace has shown to result in higher business productivity. Employees simply perform a lot better knowing they are completely safe and they know how to appreciate that. To achieve great business continuity and have a forward-looking company, building a sustainable workplace is a must. A sustainable workplace is extremely beneficial and stakeholders will always support those who are socially and environmentally responsible. Companies who have a sustainable workplace are also those with greater consumer confidence.
There are many sustainable companies out there. Google, Apple, Siemens, Method, Philips, and L’oreal are just a couple of those who commit to the environment, education, safety and health of their employees. Some of these also make donations of networking and collaborative technologies in order to reduce the chances of leaving their environmental footprint on the planet. Companies and organizations who care for the planet and our lives are those who end up very successful in the business world.
Understanding how important employees really are is crucial to any business out there. Investing in the health and safety of the employees is a great way to get their loyalty, trust, motivation, and interest. Health and safety procedures help companies and organizations reduce the injuries and illnesses of their employees. Reducing injuries and possible health problems has a great impact on the business and people who work around it. Many companies out there offer effective training that is meant to teach their employees about preventing possible injuries, improper hygiene, hazardous materials and many other things that are a risk to the business and people in it. Safety and health standards are extremely important for everyone, employer and employees. Employers are expected to keep their employees safe from all of the hazards at their workplace, educate and openly talk about the dangers.
Every workplace has a potential hazard, equipment, gases, chemicals, certain activities, and tools can often cause an injury or do harm to the employees. A workplace with potential hazards is required to have an emergency and evacuation plan ready at all times. Businesses known for working with certain gases and chemicals, they are at very high risk of improper maintenance, handling or storage - These are very dangerous and can lead to a rather dangerous, sometimes even deadly exposure for employees. Setting up a good evacuation and emergency plan can save lives and it will also make everyone feel a lot safer. Health and safety of the workplace is the most important thing for a business. These procedures can have a tremendously big impact on the business as well, increased profits, better workers, better clients, better productivity, and respect. Implementing health and safety procedures into your company’s infrastructure is always a profit in the long-run.
Today, there are companies who let their employees choose from several comprehensive medical plans, they offer life insurance, employee assistance plan, confidential resources, and disability coverages. These plans and procedures ensure their employees can easily solve any health problems and prevent them without a lot of worry behind it. These companies believe that people are the company, they invest in their employees and always look for more benefits they can add up to the list. There are many businesses out there who started to offer full gym services, fitness classes, and massage therapists for their employees. Business who have these services, they most likely understand how important it is to maintain good nutritional but also the mental foundation of our well being.
Healthy and well-designed environment can also have a huge impact on business and productivity overall. While health and safety are the priority when it comes to business itself, a nicely designed workplace will create a strong work culture, promote productivity, creativity, and collaboration between the employees. Investing in decent tools, equipment and furniture is an investment every employee likes to hear about. Creating mixed collaboration spaces, break rooms, a kitchen or a game room will bring the employees together. Such areas are a great addition to any business, they make people feel at home, relaxed and they make friends a lot easier. Having a workplace filled with friends means having many great business solutions.
Of course, to create a well-designed workplace you must understand how design plays such a large role in business productivity. To achieve the best results, companies nowadays try to incorporate a warm and rather inviting environment, they focus on bright lighting and do their best to get rid of clutter, noise, and possible distractions. Not everyone is a designing expert, so many actually work with experienced teams in order to find the best furnishings, stylish colors and great efficiency. Proper furnishing and a good space plan can have a great effect on the employees and their teamwork. It shapes their work culture and helps to build up employee engagement.
There are still many traditional offices out there, their employees sit in very unnatural light, they are forced to sit on the same spot all the time and they often end up distracted by the clutter and terrible workplace design. Such offices reduce employee engagement, their productivity and it nearly always results in huge money loss. Flexibility and freedom of movement seem to be one of the best solutions for such offices. Allowing employees to have more choice and control over their work is a great step, allowing them to have freedom of movement is even bigger. People like to have control over their privacy, they dislike being pushed into groups at all times, they enjoy having a break every now and then, and that is completely fine. Once the employees have their desired freedom, they will have no issues with concentration, they will have enough privacy and have an easier time getting along with their co-workers.
People work a lot, they spend most of their time at work, sometimes more than their own homes. Providing a sustainable work environment for them is crucial and it will make their working days a lot more enjoyable. A sustainable, healthy workplace results in happier employees, better business productivity and fewer injuries at work. Occupational accidents kill many people worldwide each year, counting the medical expenses and compensations, injuries take a lot of money from businesses and organizations.
All in all, the sustainability of the workplace means a great profit for the business. Sustainability of the workplace means caring for the company and people in it, planet and good living. Organizations finally started to realize that sustainable workplace means profit, they are switching to different lighting to reduce electricity bills, they use passive cooling or heating, they promote healthier foods in the cafeterias - all this increases their employee productivity, brings better business solutions and increased energy levels. Thanks to big companies understanding the importance of a sustainable workplace, there are fewer injuries at work than ever and fewer expenses of work-related injuries.
Sustainability is also great for consumers, not only companies. People respect and appreciate companies who commit to the environment and are responsible around it. Looking at the list of the most popular companies in the world, it is easy to say that the ones who understand sustainability have taken over. According to Unilever’s international study from 2017. A third of consumers actually choose to buy from the sustainable brands that are environmentally aware. People nowadays seem to be caring a lot more for the environment and health than they used to back in the days. Sustainable businesses are a great way of showing it is all possible even better with enough care and effort.
Unsustainable business practices such as bad food in the cafeteria, poor air quality, energy shortages, and water issues always leave a terrible mark on the business itself. These things are important to the employees and if they are exposed to the negative impacts, their energy, motivation and productivity levels fall down.
Did you know? A 2018 Gallup study showed the results and revealed that 85% of the employees actually function and work below their potential? This is mainly because the employees are not engaged enough, their development is slow and they lack the motivation to work to their full potential. Sustainable workplaces are made to function well with humans, they help us connect our passion with our learning. Combining all of it together, you create a sustainable work culture for the entire staff, and you make a profit.
Somehow, everyone wishes to protect and help the environment, but we are also having a hard time adapting to the changes it requires. We seem to struggle to change some of our behaviors in order to adapt to new, healthier habits. Sometimes, wanting something and knowing about it just does not seem to be enough to make us do it! There are many ways to build a sustainable work culture and workplace, for those who are actually ready to adapt to changes and get involved, of course.
10 Stratagies to build a Sustainable Workplace
Employees have a hard time engaging in environments they are dissatisfied with, however, they engage a lot easier in environments they feel comfortable in. Each employee deserves to have his/her own personal space, this means a space where they can hang their photographs, place their fishing trophy or just showcase some of their work. Gathering all of your employees at one place and giving them no freedom of movement is a bad idea. Everyone likes freedom and we should all be moving whenever we feel like it. Bad posture and a lack of movement in the offices can have a bad impact on our overall health. Create and provide space for everyone to enjoy, space free of clutter, a space filled with natural lighting and decent air quality because these are crucial to every human being. All of the employees function a lot better in a healthy, spacious environment.
Certain companies out there have shown that feeling at home at your workplace can be a magical experience for the employees and their business results. Home is usually a place we feel safe at, a place we freely roam around and eat our favorite food without many distractions on our mind. Creating a workplace that will feel like home for the employees usually means boosting your employee productivity, creativity, motivation, and happiness. Employees who feel at home will easily chat on their breaks, they will cook together, share their skills and interests, and discuss business problems even when they are not ‘’really’’ working. Workplaces that feel like home always feel very inviting and friendly, their employees are always positive and ready for new challenges.
There are many things related to electronics management that can be done in order to reduce energy use and improve the sustainability of the business as it is. Every workplace features a different type of machinery, some even got automatic timers, motion sensors, and cameras. It is important to note that old machinery consumes a lot more energy than new ones, replacing all of the old machinery is advisable. Ensuring your employees know how to properly use all of the equipment is important too, but keeping up with regular cleaning and maintenance is a must. Employees who have no knowledge of the machinery they are handling can be extremely dangerous for everyone in the area. When buying new machinery, pick energy-efficient ones, pick those who consume less natural resources.
Create a workplace that makes sense, a place filled with simplicity and effectiveness. Put a recycling bin at every workstation, that way people will face no distractions on the way to it. Make the workflow easy with the space plan of your workplace, give your employees a chance to show their skills and knowledge without much of a hassle. No one likes to work in spaces filled with clutter and weirdly positioned furniture. Such spaces have a negative impact on employee productivity and usually result in poor business results. Take into consideration the colors you pick for your workplace, the ergonomics of the furniture, lighting and air quality of the space.
Every employer should encourage their employees to live a healthier life. Have a meeting and talk about bad eating habits, speak about exercise, healthy foods, and healthy living. Certain employers even implemented a no-smoking policy in their company premises, some encourage their employees to take stairs instead of the elevator. Maybe you cannot make your employees quit smoking, but you can at least allow them to use standing desks! There are many companies out there who actually invite their employees to participate in sports events, they bicycle together, play football, tennis and go to the gyms. While not every employee will be happy to take the stairs instead of the elevator, in the long run, it will be healthier for them and the business too. There are many employees who actually feel a lot better after adapting to a healthier life, they come up with awesome business solutions and engage in work more than ever.
Speaking openly about the sustainability of the workplace and business is a great idea, it gets employees involved. Once employees hear about how sustainability works, they will most likely share a lot of ideas and be ready to make big changes. People are social creatures, we feel the need to follow a good example and learn about things we love and appreciate. Many employees barely ever think about the pollution of air, the damage that is being done to natural systems and biodiversity. Teach them about recycling, encourage water saving practices, incorporate recycled materials into your building, talk about green power and see big changes happen right away.
Employees like to hear a good word about their work, they like to be reminded of their achievements and good values. When making an important decision at the workplace, relate the decision with one of the employees who has shown to have great values. They will not only appreciate a kind word, but they will also instantly agree with the decision that has been made. This practice can be used to keep people away from their mindless bad habits and turn them into something good. While this is all about behavioral science, it is really not a hard thing to do. Appreciating the skills and values of employees is an important step towards building a better business relationship. Those employees who feel appreciated have proven to be a lot more productive and engaged than those who are barely ever spoken to.
If you wish to ensure the sustainability of the business, engaging a sustainable supply chain is a must. Every sustainable business has to find suppliers who encourage and incentivize sustainable practices or just find suppliers who will be willing to do so. Including sustainability as criteria for choosing your suppliers is of big importance for your business sustainability. Once you find a good supplier, you will easily avoid any raw materials known for containing mercury, lead or other hazardous substances. Some organizations also use recycled materials for their supplies, which is a great way to reduce pollution and saves a lot of money.
Caring for employees is important just as caring for the planet itself. There are many things sustainable businesses do in order to reduce their environmental footprint. Reduction of the environmental footprint helps using less energy, promotes investing in people and saves the planet.
A couple of things that can be done to reduce the environmental footprint of the business:
- Energy efficient bulbs
- Light sensors and timers
- Water saving practices
- The use of natural light to its full potential
- Responsive heating/cooling measures
- Recycling materials
- Consider renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power
A good sustainability program will not only have a great impact on the business itself, but also staff around it. Employees know how to appreciate a good sustainability program, they recognize the positivity and saving potential behind it. Every employee works better in a safe, healthy and sustainable environment. This is why 9 out of 10 millennials would rather switch to the brand known for committing to social goods and investments in sustainability than to any other that does not. Sustainability seems to be taking over the businesses all around the world, it has shown to save a lot of money and also attract new talents to the business.
Did you know? Facebook actually has a website dedicated to sustainability. They post their sustainability numbers and progress on the website.
Knowing there are so many businesses out there leading sustainable business, I gathered up a few that can be a great example to everyone.
Nokia specializes in telecommunication services, they are a Finnish multinational company taking responsibility for the environmental impact their brand had on the planet. Nokia became a sustainable company by making big decisions in several sustainability fields.
- They created a workplace where their employees feel valuable
- They do their best to minimize their environmental impact.
- They try to make their operations eco-efficient.
- They promote employee training and development
BMW is a German engine manufacturing company producing luxury vehicles and motorcycles. It was founded in 1916. Currently, still one of the top-selling luxury automakers in the entire world. BMW started its sustainability plan back in 2015. Hoping they will reach it by 2020.
- They hope to significantly increase transparency and resource efficiency through their supply chain
- They invested over €350 million for training and education since their sustainability plan started.
58% of the electricity bought by BMW worldwide comes from renewable energy sources
Cisco specializes in network hardware, it is an American company founded in 1984. 2012. Cisco tried to improve its energy efficiency by turning waste into resources. Currently, Cisco has a goal to avoid one million metric tons of greenhouse gas from its supply chain by 2020.
- Cisco makes donations of networking and collaborative technologies in order to reduce its environmental footprint.
- They are coming up with new sustainability solutions
Facebook is a social network, founded in 2004, Facebook has been one of the most popular websites in the world. Just like Cisco, Facebook also has a goal, they wish to reduce greenhouse gas footprint by 75% and reach 100% renewable energy by 2020.
- Facebook believes people can bring the world closer together
- They try to minimize their energy, emissions and water impact
- They protect their workers and the environment
- They collaborate to develop and share sustainability solutions
Google is a search engine first founded in 1998. In the US. At Google, people try to build sustainability and create things around it no matter what they do. Today, Google is one of the companies who constantly look for ways to be responsible and sustainable.
- Google supports and encourages everyone to be responsible for the planet
- They make smart use of the planet’s resources
- They built a supply chain who cares about the social and environmental impact
What is green power? Green power is generated from natural resources known for replenishing themselves in short periods of time. Sun, moving water, wind, waste material, organic plants, and the heat are all considered to be green power.
What is the work culture? Work culture is a study of ideologies, principles, beliefs, and procedures of the organization an employee is found in. Work culture decides the way employees are meant to be interacting with each other, it helps to build the functionality of the organization itself.
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