Workforce2035: Sustainability and it’s Implications on Success

This article is the fifth part of this five-part series focussed on Workforce2035.

Did you know that “62% of executives consider a sustainability strategy necessary to be competitive today, and another 22% think it will be in the future.”*

With transparency becoming increasingly prevalent, businesses have realiSed the need to become more sustainable. In order to thrive, they must be capable of adapting and of responding to new threats and opportunities.  Where such conditions are established, business leadership embodies these principles:

  1. Systems Thinking

    Systems thinking builds missing links between teams and business areas, shares knowledge and drives innovation. Sustainable businesses ask, ‘who else might be affected by this decision?’ or ‘where are other teams excelling at this?’ Once positive changes are systematically replicated across other areas, the impact of strategic decision making is exponentially increased. Teams remain one step ahead at all times; an important competitive advantage.

  2. Surplus

    Future-facing businesses see resources not as something to be ‘managed’ or locked away for lean times, but to invest and be invested in. Assessing current labour resources, predicting gaps and leveraging human analytics are all vital in a sustainable business. Time, training, information sharing, technology and personal-growth are also all pro-actively managed. That way, during periods of market volatility or low morale, companies are stocked up on the resilience and the resources needed to thrive.

  3. Abundance

    Sustainable businesses have an abundant mindset. They go beyond simply meeting the needs of the present and, in the process, create excessive wealth. In a sustainable business, this wealth is self-replicating and focuses on much more than just the bottom line. (The future workforce, after all, wants more than just a big bonus.) Leaders and managers are a key indicator here. If leaders have time, energy and options, their employees likely will too. Abundance across financial, purpose-led and culture-based metrics provides a healthy buffer for lean times and a self-sustaining talent pool.

  4. Generosity

    Frugality in business, outside your overheads, is costly – it wins you neither friends nor favour. Conversely, generosity will attract the confidence and respect of your team and encourage the same behaviour in return. Generosity creates community and also reduces stress. Being generous doesn’t mean being a pushover, either. It gives you a competitive edge internally and externally as you create loyal team members and customers. Being generous with your time and attention will lead to empowerment and influence.

  5. Ecology

    Sustainable business leaders prioritise their internal ecology and adapt to their surroundings. Creating a sustainable ecology is made possible by optimising your operations and empowering your teams, as well as fostering innovation. It also means eliminating wasteful or non-vital processes and attending carefully to your resources. A healthy, thriving ecology is the bedrock of a sustainable business. It allows you to attract and retain talent, easily allocate resources and quickly respond to future opportunities.

It is clear that sustainability will stay en vogue. Workforce 2035 demands sustainability.

*2016 IMD Research & Knowledge