WCI, Inc
July 9, 2024

Human sustainability

Deloitte has released a new report in collaboration with independent research firm Workplace Intelligence uncovering growing pressure for companies to prioritize “human sustainability,” which they define as the degree to which an organization creates value for people as human beings, leaving them with greater health and well-being, stronger skills and greater employability, good jobs, opportunities for advancement, progress toward equity, increased belonging, and heightened connection to purpose. Now in its third year, the survey revealed that the majority of the C-suite, including around 8 out of 10 CEOs, say they’re feeling pressured to make public commitments to improve human sustainability from employees (82 percent), customers (78 percent), investors (78 percent), partners (77 percent) and board members (77 percent).

Leaders are largely embracing this pressure: 88 percent would like their pay to be tied to human sustainability metrics, and 71 percent believe their company’s leadership should change if they aren’t advancing human sustainability. Around 3 out of 4 executives agree that human sustainability is an enterprise risk that should be measured and monitored (73 percent) and discussed at the board level (75 percent).

The report, “The important role of leaders in advancing human sustainability,” also reveals that doing well by workers and the world can offer long-term benefits for both people and organizations. However, to help companies to move their human sustainability efforts forward and reap these benefits, leaders should increase their understanding of worker realities at their own organization.

Key findings from the research include:

  • Eighty-two percent of executives believe their company is advancing human sustainability, but just 56 percent of workers agree. In fact, some leaders fail to recognize that for most people surveyed, work is a negative rather than a positive force in their lives. Around 90 percent of executives believe that working for their company has a positive effect on employee well-being, skills development, career advancement, inclusion and belonging, and their sense of purpose and meaning. However, just 60 percent (or fewer) of workers agree.
  • Workforce well-being — a key component of human sustainability — continues to need focus, but many executives may not be aligned with what their worker sentiment reveals. Only around 1 out of 3 workers say their physical (34 percent), mental (32 percent), financial (35 percent) and social (31 percent) well-being improved last year. However, at least 7 out of 10 executives believe these well-being dimensions improved for their people.
  • Around 7 out of 10 workers say if their organization increased its commitment to human sustainability, this would improve their overall experience at work (72 percent) and increase their engagement and job satisfaction (71 percent), productivity (70 percent), desire to stay with their company long-term (70 percent), and trust in their company’s leadership (69 percent).
  • Eighty-two percent of executives say companies should be required to publicly report their human sustainability metrics. However, 81 percent admit their own organization isn’t doing enough when it comes to making public commitments around human issues. Around a third (32 percent) of these leaders say this is because the goals they could realistically accomplish are trivial and they’re embarrassed to make public commitments around them.
  • A significant majority of executives (88 percent) would like their compensation to be tied to human sustainability metrics. Remarkably, nearly half (47 percent) would like at least 75 percent of their compensation to be linked to these metrics. What’s more, 61 percent of the C-suite say they’d accept a pay cut to work for a company that is advancing human sustainability.

“It’s promising that so many of today’s leaders are willing to take ownership of human sustainability,” said Dan Schawbel, managing partner at Workplace Intelligence. “However, some executives don’t realize that their own employees are dealing with a suboptimal work experience. The disconnects uncovered in our research should be a call to action for leaders as they embark on their mission to create greater value for all stakeholders within the broader human ecosystem.”

Source: Deloitte.

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