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Can you legitimately "do" sustainability when you are laying people off?"

On the surface this is a tough question.

The easy response is to say: “No. It would look tasteless, lack authenticity and would be greeted with immense scepticism by our people”.

But I’d argue communicating around sustainability and ethics is all the more important in difficult times.

It’s about HOW you do it. Not if.

All companies express regret when losing people.

Why not use that message to ask for suggestions on how the firm can be better run, save money and create further jobs in the future?

Yes it’s a risk when cutting headcount.

But your people will let off steam anyhow. Particularly if you don’t tell them the why and the how of it all.

So why not listen to some of it, use what you can, and show them their views matter?

A simple and cheap way is to host an senior executive Q&A on the company intranet.

Both the rationale for cuts but also the opportunity of savings via sustainability thinking could be part of that conversation.

Do it right and you unleash innovation.

It can be done. Tough times are not an excuse for corporate silence.

1 Comment

  1. Chris Harrop, Marshalls plc

    A good challenge and good suggestions .

    My starting point is that Sustainability is about the triple bottom line, Social, Environmental AND Economic .

    Unless the firm is run in a sound financial manner it can't meet any of it's responsibilities, to it's employees, it's shareholders or to the wider community.

    The fact is that from time to time we have to make tough decisions that can lead to redundancies – then as Toby quite rightly says its about how you do it and then how you treat the remaining staff.

    If we fail to make those tough decisions about financial management and sadly redundancies and then fail treat those affected fairly and with respect we will never be able to make the transition to a Sustainable world.

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