A look at how employers are driving sustainability initiatives, and harnessing employee passion, to impact their social and environmental bottom line.

The benefits of running a sustainable business are far reaching and widely felt. But it isn’t just about switching off the lights at the end of the day and printing double sided. Rather, sustainability is a significant strategic, cultural, and managerial shift that can aid all facets of your business.

By definition a sustainable business is a successful business – one that has the ability to sustain itself, the environment and the community that supports it. Below we take a look at why you should care about running a proactively sustainable company – and what you can do to create the change that’s needed.

Why you should care about sustainability

The benefits of adopting a sustainable company culture extend beyond the environmental. Managers around the world have found that by creating sustainable workplaces they are not only introducing efficiencies and reducing costs, but also fostering engagement and improving the health and happiness of their employees.

The right employees are key to running a successful business, and the right people increasingly want to work with value driven organisations. In turn, introducing policies of sustainability has been proven to create a healthier, happier and ultimately more productive workplace.

Setting a sustainable direction

While it’s an obvious choice to embrace sustainable attitudes in the workplace, it can be difficult to know where to start. Which is why here at First State Super we’ve drawn up a ‘Sustainability Charter’. Acting as a guiding framework, it states: ‘By actively reducing our environmental footprint and operating in a socially responsible and ethical manner, we will create a better and healthier work environment and a better future for all.’

There are many organisations dedicated to transforming workplaces into beacons of sustainable practice and they’re here to help. Since the 1990s prominent thinkers have advocated frameworks such as the Triple Bottom Line – showing that beyond profit and loss, businesses can add a social and environmental bottom line as well.

In Australia we are at the forefront of a sustainable revolution, with access to internationally recognised organisations dedicated to supporting businesses in the transition to sustainable models. CitySwitch is one such organisation. By implementing insightful resources and assessment tools, many Australian companies have made measurable efficiency improvements. And the best thing about CitySwitch? It’s free!

Harnessing employee passion

Employees increasingly expect their employers to be environmentally and socially aware, and are willing to help drive workplace sustainability. This is especially true for the younger generation, with a recent survey showing that 82% of millennials will actively look to help their company become more sustainable. Harnessing this energy is key to producing change.

At First State Super, we couldn’t be prouder to see our clients working towards a sustainable future. A local initiative demonstrating workplace collaboration has blossomed at the Alfred Hospital. Here, a group of enthusiastic ICU nurses have banded together to form the ‘Green Team’. Focussing on small and manageable issues, in only two years they’ve grown to 30 members and have halved the amount of clinical waste coming from their ward and energised their workplace in the process.

In a similar vein the team at Western Health has been running expansive sustainability initiatives as a strategic imperative since 2009. During this time it has slashed the amount of plastic waste it sends to landfill by pioneering recycling programs that turn medical plastic into furniture and garden hoses.

Working towards a sustainable future

From reduced impact on the environment, reduced operating costs and a vibrant, progressive company culture – creating a sustainable company culture is shifting from being a smart move to being a business imperative.

The trouble is often taking the first step; knowing which processes to put in place and how to deliver them. Once the sustainable snowball gets started it will perpetuate itself – spreading the benefits across your company and seeding a sustainable future.

To learn more about kick starting your own sustainability initiative, request a meeting with First State Super’s very own Sustainability Officer – Zoe Heath.

Request a meeting with Zoe Heath

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