16th Oct, 2020 Read time 4 minutes

Beyond Sustainability: Transforming the workforce for the new normal

The principles of sustainability and the nature of work are evolving at a rapid pace. The business community recognises that the world faces a climate emergency and actions need to be stepped up. So what skills are required to ensure that a modern-day workforce is competently conscious of how its actions affect environmental impact? And how do businesses reconcile the additional investment for training? 

Sustainability is essential from both a strategic and investor perspective 

Sustainable business is no longer about banning plastic water bottles from the office or arming your organisation with a glossy report. Instead many of today’s companies are transforming to support a conscious, resilient, and adaptable society where personal values matter. 

From the dawn of the modern environmental movement and the establishment of environmental regulations in the 1970s, sustainability has become a strategic and an investor concern driven by market forces. Today, corporate agendas are shaped by global goals, such as those launched by the United Nations to promote prosperity while protecting the planet – vitally important in providing a critical framework for COVID-19 recovery. 

Investor Considerations 

According to ‘The Investor Report’ by Harvard Business school, business across the globe are integrating their sustainability agenda into their investment proposition, a clear sign that corporate leaders are being held accountable by shareholders for its environmental performance. With 47% of internet users worldwide reporting they had ditched products and services from a brand that violated their values, the stakes to keep ahead in a competitive marketplace, and an investor market have never been higher. 

The re-thinking of the business sustainability agenda requires pioneering thinking and bold leadership at the highest level. It requires top decision-makers to align sustainable business transformation programs with activities that drive revenue growth and profitability. In a recent survey by the ERB Institute, more than 90 percent of global-brand CEOs state that sustainability is essential to their company’s success, and key to that success is a well-trained sustainability-conscious workforce. 

Workforce Awareness 

Focusing on building a sustainable workforce is a must if a company aims to connect and produce results authentically and successfully. Company sustainability typically looks at its impact on the community locally and globally, but sustainability starts with the people behind the scenes. It unites them to create a better work culture, work-life balance and contributions to customers and the world. 

Turning a sustainability vision into reality is not easy, and implementation is hard to get right. Often creating a single program designed to change all employees’ mindset falls short. Instead, many businesses have shifted focus to the employees who could facilitate change the fastest. Facilitating change is best placed with supervisors and managers and those who have the most direct impact on others, and therefore are usually trained in advance of the remainder of the workforce.

To unlock a mechanism of upskilling the workforce, many organisations look for support from professional bodies such as The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). 

IEMA’s Environmental Sustainability Skills for the Workplace training provides a foundation for working in a manner that is sustainable to both the environment and the business. While IEMA’s Environmental Sustainability Skills for Managers covers the understanding of the strategic and operational implications, environmental sustainability has on them, their team and department. Both courses sit hand in hand to drive the reduction of environmental impact and in turn, help organisations improve its financial bottom line. 

Research has shown that companies that best manage their environmental and social impact and have better governance practices are more profitable in the medium to long term. 

Sound stewardship equals sound results. 

Society has reached a crossroads, and we are facing some critical decisions. The COVID Pandemic has further reinforced how different the planet can be when people’s behaviour changes. So, as we rebuild our economy, think about how you embed sustainability objectives at the heart of your business strategy. 

Through a partnership between IEMA and learning and development training company Astutis, sustainability skills training is now more accessible than ever before through the launch of a suite of online sustainability skills short courses. Learn more about how your business could reduce its environmental impact and improve its bottom line through sustainability skills training at https://info.astutis.com/iema-sustainability-skills-for-the-workplace

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