As today marks another celebration of Labour Day, we celebrate workers and their achievements. Unfortunately, there cannot be a parade because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, the struggles and gains made by workers and labourers must be honoured.
On May 1, 1886, labour unions in the United States went on strike to demand that workers should not be made to work for more than 8 hours a day. A blast occurred in Chicago's Haymarket Square just 3 days after, leaving many dead. In honour of those who died, the International Socialist Conference declared May 1 as a day designated for labourers. This gradually spread to other parts of the world and was adopted by the United Nations.
With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the daily routine of workers, it is highly important to ensure that the best business practices are adopted to enhance the wellbeing of workers. Some workers are losing their jobs, some are getting pay cuts, and others have not been paid as they are unable to go to work. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) report this week, the global workforce will be hit with the equivalent of the loss of more than 300 million jobs. There is therefore a need to consider sustainable business practices that will be beneficial to the wellbeing of workers in the long run.
Regardless of the size of the company, there are some sustainable business practices to indulge in for the benefit of all stakeholders.
A sustainable business is one that has a minimal negative impact on the environment.
One path to a sustainable business that will benefit the well being of employees is remote working. Working remotely has numerous benefits to the employee, the business, and the environment. As less time is spent commuting, employees can get enough rest and can be more productive. Also, the environment benefits from this business practice. Fuel consumption will be lower as remote workers drive less- contributing to a greener environment.
Another way is to engage with local communities at a grassroots level. Simply targeting individual goals such as improving health care and minimising emissions is not enough. Emphasising human security and addressing a pattern of problems that affect their lives, must become a core facet of corporations’ business models. Businesses can consider partnering with local communities to build societies that are resilient and stable socially, economically, and environmentally.
Improving employee experience to keep employees motivated and productive is an absolute must-have. Put measures to ensure a clear communication strategy with employees. Delayed crisis communication can impact how your employees perceive your company’s crisis preparedness. Internal communication efforts must be strengthened and constant to make employees aware of decisions made by top executives and not feel left out or disrespected. They must feel cherished as they are supposed to.
Lastly, consider providing special attention to your employees who cannot work from home during the pandemic. To give your employees the exceptional work experience they once had in a physical office, you need to provide them with the needed tools (i.e. internet connection, laptops, etc). This makes it easier for workers to focus on their roles.
These are among many sustainable business practices employers can engage their employees in. Sustainable businesses are most likely to stand the test of global crises. The key is to build your business strategy around sustainable development goals (SDGs). Engaging with the SDGs creates a purposeful impact on the operations of the company.
As António Guterres (UN General Secretary) stated in his statement on the International Day of Labour, “we can build fair globalisation rooted in equality, sustainability, and justice. The pathway is by honouring the dignity of work not only in words, but deeds —not only once a year, but every day.”