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What is Human Sustainability?

A committed and motivated team is essential to the growth of any organisation, focusing on staff retention and wellbeing is a top priority for many. When companies focus on their staff retention they experience many benefits, including: lower training costs, strong company culture, an increase in productivity, higher levels of engagement, stronger profits, and a more stable work environment. Human sustainability is a phrase which has started to crop up in my client conversations and is another way of focusing on staff retention, with wellbeing at its heart.

The term human sustainability takes the lead from the wider concept of environmental sustainability. In its simplest form sustainability is the idea of how humans interact with the environment in a way that will leave resources for future generations. Human sustainability builds on this concept, and extends beyond the reach of employees, but encompasses all stakeholders within an organisation, eg: employees, suppliers, investors and communities.

When we start to think about staff retention or human sustainability, we need to move away from the notion that work is primary, if we look after the employee first, the rest will follow. A recent study by Oxford University showed that employees were 13% more productive if they were happy, certainly something to strive for. So, if we start to consider how as an organisation we might bring the idea of human sustainability or staff retention into our wellbeing strategy, it starts to present some interesting ideas.

How can we create an organisation where our teams feel valued, trusted and able to grow?

Happy workers high-fiving each other.

Creating a positive company culture that puts our teams first, and where work is so much more than financial reward, will reap huge rewards. As we start to put wellbeing provisions in place there are some key metrics we can use to gauge success including: staff retention, sickness levels and pulse surveys to understand how our employees feel their wellbeing is being looked after.

Below are some ideas on how we could create a culture, that focuses on human sustainability, where your teams and clients are at the heart of everything.

  • Community. Feeling part of something bigger is really important to many employees, it is not just about turning up, working for 8 hours and going home. For each team within the organisation, it is important to work together to achieve set goals, in a hybrid working environment, this presents more challenges to senior leaders at all levels. Things like, team building away days to facilitate deeper conversations; organising social events; setting digital free days that encourage the teams to pick the phone and speak; and having an open approach, will all help.

  • Cultivate psychological safety. Psychological safety describes an environment where people feel able to express themselves without fear that others will think less of them. Whether they're sharing ideas, asking questions, expressing concerns or acknowledging mistakes, in the workplace psychological safety translates to employees feeling comfortable in doing so.

  • Opportunity to grow and learn. During COVID many re-evaluated how they viewed their employer and considered if they matched their brand values, which lead to a mass movement of talent. We know that from our mental wellbeing pillars, having the opportunity to grow within our job is so important. By creating programmes for your teams to expand their knowledge and environments where they feel safe to ask questions and make mistakes, will all help support their individual growth and progression.

  • Supporting wellbeing. There are many ways organisations can support their team’s wellbeing. It starts by creating a strategy and defining what is important for your organisation. There are lots of different ways to support your teams from drop in clinics where teams can share if things are troubling them; wellbeing workshops to learn more about how to better support each other; setting up social groups to help different sectors connect eg: women in leadership; to creating a positive hybrid working environment. Whatever is implemented, it is important for senior leaders to set boundaries and lead by example, for example, if you all agree no emails after 6pm then everyone across the team should adhere to this.

In Summary

It is interesting to see that the younger generation as a demographic in particular are really driving some of these wellbeing principles further, by wanting flexible working, time to go to the gym and opportunities to learn, for example. So, as we approach “Time to Talk” day on 1st February, take this opportunity to start to review what support is in place for your teams what supports your staff retention, then take steps to make positive change as needed.

To understand more about mental health and how it fits into your organisation please join our latest webinar on 6 February. Places are limited, but please click HERE to reserve your place.


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