Time to increase social conscientiousness in the work place

As some of you may be aware on the 20 September young people are preparing to take part in the largest global climate strike, inspired by the Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg. In a rather timely survey, commissioned by the National Citizen Service (NCS), their poll revealed that a majority (61%) of teachers are in favour of pupils missing lessons to campaign and support causes they believe in .

In drawing parallels with the ‘traditional workplace’ there have been a number of recent studies, e.g. Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends which confirms that employees (and especially millennials) want businesses to have more of a social conscience. According to David Brown, Deloitte Human Capital Leader: “A fundamental change is underway…Organisations today are judged for more than their success as a business. They’re now being held responsible for their impact on society at large – their role as a social enterprise…Engagement on topics such as diversity, gender pay equity, income inequality, immigration, and climate change can lift financial performance and brand value, while failure to engage can destroy reputation and alienate key audiences”…employees being one of them.

But in order to pave the way for change, like most organisational change, it needs to come from the top. One might assume that socially conscious leaders can only truly be this by reducing their profits and making an extreme lifestyle adjustment but in actual fact it only takes small changes in their thinking, behaviour, practices and company policies. Changes such as: making a sincere effort to pay workers fairly, promoting a positive work environment and ensuring the safety of their employees. Even companies that don’t have a socially conscientious mission can still work towards the betterment of society – starting with how they manage their employees. And done well, this then creates a halo effect: companies that promote a socially conscientious corporate culture find that the desire to make the world a better place transfers to their employees.

With this in mind, the following sections highlight 4 areas for today’s socially conscientious employers to pay attention to, as it relates to HR issues

1. Diversity: We already know how diversity is beneficial for business in several ways. For example, ethnically diverse companies outperform their competitors by 35%, and gender diverse organisations surpass their non-diverse peers by 15%. Furthermore, researchers have discovered that diverse businesses earn nearly 1% more in profit for every 10% increase in diversity

2. Workplace Harassment: Socially conscientious business leaders create a workplace that’s free of sexual harassment by assuming a more meaningful and proactive approach to promoting a harassment free workplace and making an ongoing commitment to fostering a culture where this kind of behaviour is unacceptable.

3. Job Satisfaction: Socially conscientious employers foster a satisfying work environment. This involves, in part, making it possible for employees to see how their work contributes to the success of the business. They promote rapport by encouraging team collaboration and career development. Socially responsible leaders inspire staff by providing employees with insights into how company initiatives promote the welfare of colleagues and the wider community. Policies such as diversity and flexible working promote job satisfaction and reduce employee burnout.

4. Wellbeing: As the line between work and play continues to blur, socially responsible leaders invest in benefits and rewards that are more personalised, agile and holistic. Programmes that include mindfulness, life balance and financial fitness.

The above are just a few of the areas where employers can become more socially conscientious but we couldn’t finish without returning to the topic of climate change. Below are ten examples of sustainable initiatives you can implement to encourage an environmentally conscious workplace for your employees, courtesy of https://risepeople.com/blog/environmentally-conscious-workplace/

1. Implement a recycling programme

2. Conserve energy within the office

3. Promote a Paperless office

4. Support green suppliers

5. Reduce by re-using

6. Invest in office plants

7. Conserve human energy – Help to keep your team happy and energized by establishing a safe, non-toxic environment at all times. It can start by providing sustainable and nutritious options, such as organic fruits and vegetables.

8. Encourage sustainable transportation

9. Get outside and volunteer

10. Make green thinking a key part of your company culture

The benefits of becoming more socially conscious are numerous as well as obvious, if you’re focused squarely on making profit as a business, without worrying about how to earn it conscientiously, you’re only doing half the job your employees (existing and potential), customers and stakeholders expect from you as a leader.

Whilst writing this blog Greta Thunberg was delivering her “Ambassador of Conscience award” acceptance speech from Amnesty International. In it, she says… “I think there is an awakening going on. Even though it is slow, the pace is picking up and the debate is shifting…” So let’s take inspiration from Greta and act now to be more socially conscious at work. If you want to learn more, please get in contact with us!