Environmental Trends – Community Footprint

Environmental Trends – Community Footprint

When we consider how, in a physical and visible sense, organisations impact on people’s day-to-day lives, the business case for an organisation to seek to improve both the reality and the perception of its presence becomes clear.

That impact is strongest at the workplace. An organisation’s ability to influence the health and wellbeing of its employees however, extends beyond the physical boundaries of the business premises. Increasingly through technology employees are bringing the workplace in to their own homes and into their community. A 2015 Deloitte report found that employees have become hyper-connected to their jobs through pervasive mobile technology. Communities are having to live with the effects of commuting patterns, deliveries and emissions, along with the sights and sounds associated with day-to-day business activities.

Combined, these create a ‘footprint‘ that defines the organisation, the impact of which can be a significant contributor to people’s overall level of happiness and wellbeing. Unmanaged, the footprint an organisation makes can be detrimental to employee health and wellbeing and thus become a barrier to success.

It is worth noting that there is often a failure to capture and articulate the economic benefits of health and wellbeing in a way that resonates (Work Foundation 2014).

However, a New Economics Foundation review suggested that if employees are ‘happy’ and buy in to the strategy of the organisation, then they will in turn put in maximum effort. Where that strategy overlaps with community interests in a positive way, employee buy-in is likely to be enhanced. How an organisation seeks to develop and control its community footprint is therefore a matter that is worthy of attention, and its leaders may wish to consider the following questions:

  1. In order to achieve optimal results from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities and organisational health and wellbeing programmes, should the level and type of organisational investment in managing their footprint substantially change?
  2. Are organisations currently going far enough and moving fast enough to ensure that predicted problems can be managed or mitigated (e.g. climate change, interruptions to supply, material substitutions, technological advancement)?
  3. Population/workforce demographics – do organisations understand the changing expectations and demands of their local communities, customers and workforce and how this will affect their existing footprint over time?
  4. Do organisations place value in a ‘culture of wellbeing’ and through their HR practices consciously link this to organisational outcomes.

Recognising that members of staff are individuals and members of the community, whose working lives are inextricably intertwined with their personal lives. Investment in the community, therefore is viewed as an investment in the employee(s).

  • Make sure you and your senior leadership understand what your organisation’s community footprint is currently. Find out what your reputation is internally, locally, and farther afield. Agree a regular method of monitoring your footprint.
  • Reconsider current levels of investment and action devoted to managing and maintaining a positive community footprint (CSR programmes).
  • Set targets and measure achievements. For example, do you know if participating in a CSR activity has any impact upon an employee’s level of engagement, performance, and absence? Develop a culture throughout the organisation, where the concern for the environment and local community is considered as important as concern for the wellbeing of colleagues and customers. Remember to work to ensure business leaders also have an environmentally responsible mindset and actively promote a responsible culture.
  • Seek new and innovative ways to engage staff and stakeholders in the challenges and opportunities around environmental concerns and long term sustainability. Enlist their support to review what you can do to reduce consumption, waste and emissions and improve the health of the environment and ultimately that of employees.
  • Ensure that activity relating to environment, community and resources involves all relevant departments / teams within your organisation, who may not traditionally work together e.g. the public affairs team (CSR), facilities / operations (building, consumption, waste etc), and HR / wellbeing.
  • Ensure that HR policies are aligned with environmental issues – e.g. travel to work plans, training, organisational behavioural values and rewards.
  • Incentivise and encourage community involvement that supports a sense of the social value of the organisation’s work, as a means to increase both the employees’ feelings of job satisfaction and their sense of pride in the community.