Can Sustainability Action Improve Employee Wellbeing?

In the height of COP26, all eyes are on global leaders to take action against cimate change. But sustainable practices in business are not only essential for the wellbeing of the planet but may also be a way of boosting employees satisfaction and happiness at work.

Here, Professor Nicholas Clarke, Deputy Dean of Kent Business School and Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources Management, explains the positive impact sustainable practices in business can have on the wellbeing of employees in the workplace.

“Selfridges, Hewlett Packard, and BP are among over 200 companies who have signed up to the climate pledge with the aim of reaching net zero carbon by 2040. Many other companies are setting ambitious sustainability goals.

‘Walmart is aiming to operate with 100% renewable energy and create zero waste while Google reports its data centres now using 50% less energy than the average centre. Unilever aims to reduce by half the environmental footprint of its products by 2030.

‘What these companies have in common is the way in which they are integrating sustainability into every employee’s job and where there is major engagement by employees in the company’s sustainability agenda.

“They do this by articulating a clear set of sustainability goals, aligning employee values with corporate values, appointing sustainability champions, supporting transformational change and involving all employees in their mission.

“In short, responsible leadership. Companies are recognising that many employees desire a greater purpose from their work than just a wage. Higher levels of engagement by employees in sustainability also have a positive effect on their wellbeing in a reciprocal and additive way. This is a win-win for sustainable business, employees and all our futures.’

Professor Nicholas Clarke is Deputy Dean and Professor of Organisational Behaviour and HRM at Kent Business School.  Nicholas’ research interests include advancing our understanding of how the quality of work relationships (manager-subordinate, team, organisation) influence learning and behaviour in organisations.


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