Sustainability has been a hot topic among businesses and individuals for quite some time. While the major focus tends to be on environmental sustainability, which centres around managing business and peoples’ daily practice impact on the environment, sustainability extends beyond that.
What about recognising and regulating our human impact? That’s also critical, and it’s known as social sustainability, which refers to the optimal state of human capital and society. It encompasses a company’s employees as well as wider stakeholders and communities, all of which are important components of long-term business success and growth.
As real estate professionals, and particularly as property managers, we cannot look at social and environmental sustainability from a single perspective. From the inside out, we manage the built environment. We ensure that an asset is managed flawlessly, that the operational impact on the environment is minimised, and, most significantly, that the happiness and well-being of the communities we manage is enhanced.
Only by considering the pillars of economy, people and environment can we achieve sustainable business growth.
Start with the people
People, like the environment, are critical pillars of sustainability. People sustainability develops a positive culture in the workplace. Just as a community is vibrant with residents and a building becomes a home with its occupants, employees enrich their companies. Therefore, a company can undertake a variety of programmes aimed at improving employee well-being, productivity, and retention rates.
More than a quarter of employees in the UAE, according to a report, will likely require upskilling post Covid. Globally, 65 per cent of employees believe that workforce development must be a high priority for businesses. Hence, employee upskilling or reskilling, in some cases, is critical to success.
Robust training and development programmes can encourage a continuous learning culture, boost staff morale, efficiency, and productivity. Training programmes will also prepare employees to take up more responsibility and will assist in developing their leadership skills.
Similarly, another study states that employees who have mental health problems and do not receive proper care are 50 per cent less engaged. It also says that 78 per cent of organisations believe that ensuring the well-being of employees is one of the drivers of organisational performance and 96 per cent say that wellbeing is a company’s responsibility.
Therefore, implementing health and wellness initiatives within the workplace demonstrates to employees that their emotional and physical well-being requirements are recognised and valued. How? Financial well-being, health screening, mental wellness workshops, fitness initiatives, health insurance, healthy meals, counselling services, flexible work options, healthy communication, and providing volunteering opportunities.
Research has also shown that over three in five workers in some countries have witnessed or experienced discrimination in the workplace based on age, race, or gender expression. How do we solve this critical issue? Encourage diversity and inclusivity.
Iron out the biases
Be mindful of unconscious prejudice, encourage equality among all and empower. Communicate the significance of bias management, promote pay fairness, recognise all cultural holidays, make it simple for your employees to provide feedback, and engage in employee resource groups.
Just like the workplace, caring for and engaging with the communities we manage is critical. Community engagement goes hand-in-hand with residents’ satisfaction. It is all about adopting practices and implementing initiatives that build long-term partnerships by collaborating with and listening to communities. It also helps companies build healthier and more fulfilling community lifestyles by delivering exceptional service.
Positive community engagement initiatives lead to happier residents, results in higher demand, better retention of tenant and strengthens brand image and reputation, which ultimately contributes to a higher RoI. Happy communities start by promoting healthy lifestyles and fostering a harmonious living experience among residents.
A communal affair
Many activations and CSR activities can be organised or implemented in a community to achieve this, be it hosting eco-friendly activities such as annual Earth Hour celebrations or installing recycle bins in common areas and rewarding tenants for going above and beyond to make their communities cleaners and greener among others.
Organising health-related activities such as blood donation drives and breast cancer awareness campaigns can also bring residents together and save lives. Another way to engage communities is to utilise your clubhouses and other community amenities to provide residents with a better and healthier lifestyle. Simply, think creatively.
Finally, whether it’s our environment, people or the communities we manage, sustainability is about meeting the needs of today without compromising on the ability to meet the needs of future generations. This all starts by everyone doing their part, big or small, and giving back to the society we serve and the earth we live on. This notion should be put into practice for a better today and a brighter tomorrow.