Thinking about how I would like to work, I defined values that are important to me. I am sharing some insights with you, because I believe they could be valuable to many of us, both employees and companies or organizations. To me, they seem very obvious, and they all relate to the term sustainability. This word is used very often in our modern world, but many aspects of it, I don’t see practiced yet on the work floors or even in job offers. It all has to do with how we treat resources in a broad sense, our planet, ourselves. Sustainability can be applied to multiple subjects, e.g. the environment, the products we develop, but also to human resources, as we are seen from a business perspective. In this article, I explicitly don’t focus on the ecological footprint concerning things like plastic cups and one-sided printing.
From what I see around me, many people from my generation (age 30-45) suffer from exhaustion, including myself.
To start with, what could really make a difference in regard to wastage of energy resources, is actively discouraging commuting, if not by bicycle. It’s not good for our planet, nor for the commuters themselves. Also, daily commuting by train isn’t very healthy in the long term and also leads to exhaustion of human resources. I believe there are multiple ways to achieve less commuting, on which I might focus in a future article.
More importantly, enabling employees to have a well-balanced life is one enormous step that has not yet been taken. Work-life-balance once was a buzz-word, often interpreted by business as flexible working hours, but flexibility only does not change any balance. Employees, especially since they most likely have partners working as well nowadays, need room for their family lives, sports, enough sleep, friends, and even side projects, in order to stay balanced and healthy. From what I see around me, many people from my generation (age 30-45) suffer from exhaustion, including myself. Prevention of the exhaustion of human resources is in the interest of all of us, both employees and employers. To put this into practice, I have formulated some recommendations to both.
That means, if you slowly start to work less, and you inspire others, a more balanced life will become affordable again.
To start with the first: think about your personal situation, the balance between the time you spend on your job and on all other things in life that are important to you, how that satisfies you. Stop letting a higher salary and more luxury products compensate for stress, mental exhaustion, and an empty life. If the outcome is that you work too much, tell your boss you’re going to work less, because you need more time off. Realize that most of the hours that you and the rest of the world spend on working are not necessary to prevent us from starving or even to have a good life. They serve a high production and are not sustainable. They lead to exhaustion of resources in a broad sense. Also, realize that the value of money is relative to the amount of it. If you start to work more and earn more than the rest of the world, you can buy more than them. But if the whole world starts to earn more, prices will just rise, especially for scarce or limited goods, like building land. That means, if you slowly start to work less, and you inspire others, a more balanced life will become affordable again. And by the way, with a smaller workforce, the world will automatically produce more sustainable goods.
Don’t send out loads of recruiters all looking for someone that exactly fits your fixed profile, while knowing that this profile is exactly the same as what all your competitors are looking for.
What I would recommend to employers is to listen better to the people you need and be more flexible towards them. It will pay back. Trust your employees. Stop saying “there aren’t enough good people”. There are, if you look out for them differently, and you use other parameters to convince them than just salary, for example. Give your buzz-words meaning, for example by saying: ‘we really live work-life-balance, in the sense that we encourage our employees to work just as much as they want’. Don’t send out loads of recruiters all looking for someone that exactly fits your fixed profile, while knowing that this profile is exactly the same as what all your competitors are looking for. You will miss many that could actually be very valuable to your company or organization. Be smarter than your competitors and make people really want to work for you. This will most likely lead to a win-win-win situation. Your employees will work better. They will stay longer, be more loyal. They will cost you less, because you’re not competing mainly on salary and because they will perhaps work fewer hours and eventually be equally productive.
Let us decide how we live ourselves, instead of having business requirements shape our lives and our planet
The important turnaround in thinking is that we altogether should decide how we treat our resources, instead of letting business requirements shape our lives and continuing to accept their exhaustion. I truly believe we can influence this, not just as a consumer, but perhaps even more in our work lives. It’s up to all of us whether we change our work culture. I believe, the current change of generation on executive positions and even the COVID-19 pandemic, can be great opportunities to create a healthier and more sustainable world, by adopting modern values. To formulate it once more: let us decide how we live ourselves, instead of having business requirements shape our lives and our planet.