• Morgane Meignen

Deepen the imprint of sustainability in your organizational culture

Work-life balance, learning oriented organization, participation and CSR: what are you waiting for?

If the features listed in the previous article of this section are already part of your organizational culture, you have the foundations to encourage managers and decision-makers to act in line with the sustainable development principles and in the best interest of your organization’s purpose. You are ready to take your organizational culture to the next level and work on managerial innovation techniques which encourage work-life balance, learning oriented organization, participation and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Work-life balance: 78% of the respondents believe it can be implemented anywhere.

The profiles of respondents who believe that work-life balance cannot be implemented within all organisations are very diverse. It seems like the previous work experience does not correlate with the belief in universality of the concept. It is interesting to note that only 74% of the respondents see work-life balance as a driver for sustainable managerial innovation. However, it was demonstrated in my master thesis in 2015 that introducing work-life balance in the business culture leads to the implementation of new organizational structures, administrative systems, management practices, processes, and techniques which can have a positive impact on the ecological and social environment of the organization.

Distribute the workload, plan for flexibility and watch out for the traps

By distributing the workload within team members, you help prevent burn out and optimize the productivity of your team. With the right methods, you can shorten the length of your employees’ working day and enable them to maximize the quality of their work. This type of resource allocation requires the team lead/manager to plan for flexibility and ensure that all areas of work are transferable in time and/or place. Surely, it is not possible for a hospital to run smoothly if the medical staff is allowed to work from home. However, if a nurse or an anesthetist finds themselves in a situation of family emergency, the work can be taken over by a colleague for the required time. This is also valid for management roles. Overall, colleagues can teach each other part of their roles to ensure someone can take over when the personal life is preventing the employee from fulfilling its role at the workplace. On the other hand, providing the employee with the tools required to balance work and private life will boost the employee’s dedication to its work: flextime, laptop/mobile phone and home working policy are different ways to provide more autonomy and freedom to your teams. However, one must acknowledge that used wrongfully, these tools can be counterproductive, if for instance the working hours become fuzzy and employees are not given the chance to disconnect due to being reachable on their work phone at all times.

Learning oriented management: 74% of the respondents believe it can be implemented anywhere.

As for the concept of work-life balance, there isn’t a typical profile for respondents who do not believe that learning oriented management can be applied to all organizations. It is interesting to note that 100% of the respondents with experience in the public, the private and the non for profit sectors believe that learning oriented management can be applied anywhere. All respondents who doubt its applicability have experience in Europe outside Scandinavia. Most of the respondents who do not see it as a universally applicable principle have around 10 years of work experience (as opposed to respondents with less than 5 years or more than 20 years of work experience). As learning oriented management increases proactive behaviour from employees, CSC Consulting highly recommends identifying how such practices can be integrated into your organizational culture.

Accept mistakes, make room for growth and become a learning-focused leader

Your team is your most valuable resource and by adopting a learning-oriented approach in your management you will encourage growth, dedication and even proactive behaviour. When accepting mistakes, you open the door to initiate a transparent dialogue on areas of improvements and learning opportunities for each individual in your team. To create a conducive learning environment, managers need to listen to their team members and make sure that the tools and resources provided for learning purposes are considered relevant and useful by the learners themselves. Learning needs are personal and will vary from one individual to another, in form and substance. While having the possibility to ask questions in the action offers the flexibility to focus on the needs directly identified by the learner him/herself, group training is more adapted when new practices are implemented within a team or to attune individuals’ habits. Last but not least, the leader’s attitude plays a crucial role in the efficiency of the learning practices implemented within a team. In general, autocratic and authoritative have a negative influence on team members’ learning, while leaders who create purpose, build trust and encourage new ways of solving problems have a positive influence on team learning.

Participative/consultative leadership: 70% of the respondents believe it can be implemented anywhere.

Only 53% of respondents with less than 10 years of working experience believe in the applicability of this concept, versus 92% of the people with more than 10 years of working experience. 85% of respondents with experience outside Europe believe it can be successfully implemented anywhere. As mentioned by one of the respondents, the distinction between participative and consultative is worth clarifying. Consultative leadership gives the opportunity for all team members to express themselves on decision-making or problem solving matters. In participative leadership style, the leader may renounce its power to make the final decision, via delegation or democratic decision-making processes. Either way, participative and consultative leaders both listen to their team members and take their input into consideration. Easily applied in smaller teams, the processes become more complex and require certain organizing methods as the organization grows.

Acknowledge expertise, listen to others and support field teams

A participative and a consultative leader have in common that they make their teams feel trusted and individuals feel valued. Participative leadership styles have proven to be an effective method to improve employees’ productivity. By recognizing people’s competencies and taking their input into consideration, leaders increase people’s motivation and self-confidence, which in turn increases their commitment to their work and their productivity. However, in growing organizations, the decision-making process can be slowed down in situations of conflict or disagreement. These types of leadership can be successfully accompanied with organizational tools and processes. Clear roles and decision-making processes can be defined, with the agility to enable individuals on the field to make certain decisions on their own when operations are conducted at a faster pace.

Corporate social responsibility: 63% of the respondents believe it can be implemented anywhere.

CSR has been defined in this research as taking into consideration the social and environmental impact of a project or an organization’s activity without compromising its economic performance. 83% of participants with over 10 years of work experience, 85% of respondents with international experience and 100% of the respondents having experience with all sectors (public, private and non-for-profit) believe that social and environmental impact can be integrated into the organization’s activities without compromising its economic performance. At CSC Consulting, we call sustainability strategy an organization’s strategy that considers equally social, environmental and economic impacts.

People, planet and profit: the three pillars for long-lasting positive results

The multiple guidelines, standards and methodologies available for organizations wishing to control their social and environmental impacts are a blessing in disguise, and particularly for smaller organizations. What should we prioritize, how should we measure, where should we start? After doing some research on available tools, one will quickly find that the process is always the same:

  • materiality and risk assessment

  • prioritization and action plan

  • KPIs and metrics

  • reporting and communication

CSC Consulting’s recommendation to get started with social and environmental impact is to get familiar with the SDG Compass. In a later article on CSC Consulting’s blog, you will learn more about the different tools available, their relation and complementary, as well as the pros and cons for SMEs.


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