Sustainability is key to employee engagement and wellbeing. Dr Tracey Leghorn, chief HR officer at SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, explains why.
In our experience at SUEZ, environmental sustainability and social value are intrinsically linked to employee engagement and the overall wellbeing of our people.
As a recycling and waste management company, environmental sustainability goes to the very heart of our work - people join SUEZ with a passion for the environment and a desire to make a difference. Similarly, social value is embedded in our business strategy as we actively look for opportunities to provide social, environmental and economic benefits in the local communities in which we work and where our people often live.
The drive for sustainability and social value comes from both the top and the bottom. Our board sets our strategy and we have dedicated sustainability and social value leads who help inform our decisions, monitor progress and advise our business. Equally, we have a network of frontline sustainability champions driving change at an individual site level. Social value initiatives are by their nature often locally led, with many delivered in partnership with third sector organisations to help benefits reach disadvantaged sectors of our local communities.
As part of our efforts to embed sustainability and take tangible actions across the business, this year we have introduced a sustainability element to our performance-related bonus scheme that covers graded staff at all levels, from chief executive to administrators. In addition, from a bonus point of view, we already view health and safety performance as a critical factor as well as sustainability issues.
For businesses embarking on their sustainability journey, the first step is to understand your current performance to provide a benchmark to track progress. There are many elements to environmental sustainability and depending on the nature of your business, calculating your carbon impact can be a complex exercise. Specific expertise in this area is needed and we are fortunate to have in-house knowledge at UK and group level to support us on our journey.
Considering sustainability as part of your benefits package can also support behaviour change, at SUEZ our extensive benefits package includes a cycle to work scheme and electric company cars to promote more sustainable forms of transport.
Once you understand your starting point you can move to a more ‘triple bottom line’ approach to how you manage compensation at all levels, it should reflect performance in all of these areas rather than being substantially weighted to just profit as we have seen in the past.
No one understands your business better than the people working in it - draw on their knowledge and experience and seek out their views on sustainability. In our experience not only does this bring some fantastic ideas, it also engages people; and buy-in is essential to achieving sustainability goals that require collective effort.
Keep an eye out for the latest issue of Reward Strategy magazine (228), where the topic of sustainable reward policies is explored.