Why sustainability needs to be a focus of post-pandemic human resources

As we look towards the new world of work, HR teams should anticipate several priorities on the horizon. Sustainability is set to reshape the modern workplace, as explored in our new report, The Future of the Sustainable Workplace in the age of COVID-19 and Climate Change. Discover the essential takeaways your HR team needs as we lead our colleagues towards a brighter tomorrow.

HR team member working on a company intranet

All signs point to a sustainable future of work

While “green” offices have been rising in the background for quite some time, COVID-19 thrust sustainability into the spotlight. With the European Union’s ‘green recovery pledge’ leading the way, enterprises around the world are now striving to build back better by prioritizing climate-positive actions.

It has become evident that sustainability will play a crucial role in tomorrow’s workplace. But what do sustainability initiatives look like and how will they transform the modern enterprise? We aim to answer these questions in our newest report, The Future of Workplace Sustainability.

Unily has partnered with leading sustainability expert, Dr. Leyla Acaroglu, and put her expertise in conversation with Unily 2020 Census data to produce the Future of the Sustainable Workplace report. Among our findings, we discovered that 65% of respondents want to work in an environmentally friendly workplace and 83% of those surveyed think COVID-19 has made sustainability more important. The results tell a story of shifting values and urgency: The era of sustainability is very much underway.

Unily census 2020

HR’s role in building more sustainable workplaces

Building a more sustainable future requires technological transformation and cultural changes. HR will have a hand in both, as you identify and fulfill new talent needs for digitalization while redefining your employer brand.

With 98% of executives currently redesigning their organizations to make them fit for tomorrow, expect to step into the spotlight and help senior leadership plant the seeds for change. From recruiting candidates with green skills to launching equity initiatives, HR teams will play a leading role in bringing workplace sustainability to life.

Unily Future of the Sustainable Workplace Guide front cover


Future of the sustainable workplace in the age of COVID-19 and climate change

We are living in a time of great and immediate change. COVID-19 and climate change are just two of the most obvious forces impacting our way of life. With mass disruptions promising to transform how we work and live, sustainability is rising on the global agenda. Discover how the pandemic is presenting new opportunities to accelerate the transition to sustainable workplaces in our newly released report.

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5 ways the rise of sustainable workplaces will impact HR

In The Future of Workplace Sustainability report, we provide a 360-degree perspective on the trends influencing the transition towards sustainability in the workplace. Our top takeaways for HR leaders include:

#1. New talent is needed for the green recovery

As business models shift from linear to circular by design, new talent needs will emerge. If your organization is looking to achieve carbon neutrality, you’re going to need to hire employees in emerging fields who will be able to help you take stewardship over the full lifecycle of what you create. According to our report, embracing a circular economy will lead to the creation of around 6m employment opportunities in fields like renewable energy systems, closed-loop product design, and impact assessment.

#2. An emphasis on equity

Sustainability is about social equity just as much as it is about environmental protection. Leading organizations are already making changes to their operating models to look out for their employees and promote equality. If you’re hoping to launch a sustainability initiative that resonates with your colleagues, you can’t ignore wellbeing and diversity & inclusion, both of which rank amongst the top topics of relevance for employees. HR teams should introduce integrated diversity and equity training to enable just workplaces for people of all races and identities.

#3. Smarter ways of working

To fully embrace sustainability, your organization must move away from outdated, 9-5 presenteeism and accept diverse work-life scenarios. COVID-19 catalyzed the mass-transition to remote work, opening the door for more flexible work arrangements that can power better results. The efficiency gains provided by next-generation technology can enable your colleagues to work smarter instead of harder, in turn creating a better work-life balance.

#4. The rise of the value-driven enterprise

Millennials are now the most prevalent age group in the workforce, and it’s up to HR to ensure their organization keeps pace with shifting generational priorities. Both Millennials and Gen Zs favor companies whose values align with their own. Our census revealed that 68% of respondents 25-44 years old will be more likely to work for a company with a strong environmental policy. Consequently, if you are looking to recruit and retain Millennials, make sure ethics are embedded in your organization’s DNA.

#5. Resilience is the new priority

COVID-19 has been a stark reminder of just how quickly things can change. As a result, when it comes to redesigning your organization’s strategy, resilience will reign supreme. From an HR perspective, upskilling should be one of your top priorities for a more resilient future. In addition to recruiting new talent for emerging green jobs, HR teams can help their colleagues adapt their skill sets to fill existing knowledge gaps. It’s evident that your employees are eager to learn, as findings from our Census reveal that 63% of respondents would like to learn more green skills to become more valuable in the workplace and 46% of employees believe they need specific training on environmental goals.

Office sustainability

Essential insights to take away today

Between diversity training and upskilling initiatives, you’re likely to have a lot on your agenda as your organization transitions to more sustainable ways of working. The most crucial points to keep in mind are:

  • Employees want to learn more green skills
  • Workplaces will need to reduce their carbon footprint through functional redesign
  • Employees want their employers to communicate more about environmental goals
  • New hires will turn down jobs based on a company’s environmental record
  • Flexible working practices and embracing new collaboration technology to reduce business travel support carbon footprint reduction

Want to learn more about workplace sustainability?

Sustainability has the potential to transform the modern enterprise and ensure that tomorrow’s business models are simultaneously more ethical and more resilient. If you’re interested in discovering more about how workplace sustainability will shape your organization’s future, download the Future of Workplace Sustainability report to learn more.

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