Improving Human Sustainability Efforts Linked to Worker Wellbeing, Loyalty

Deloitte survey shows a perception gap between C-suite and workers on company commitments to human sustainability.
By: | June 20, 2024
worker wellbeing

Business leaders are under increasing pressure to prioritize human sustainability and wellbeing, rather than focus largely on productivity, according to a survey by Deloitte and Workplace Intelligence.

Human sustainability, according to the report, is the degree to which an organization creates value for people as human beings, leaving them with greater health and wellbeing, stronger skills and greater employability, good jobs, opportunities for advancement, progress toward equity, increased belonging, and heightened connection to purpose.

While a majority of business leaders embrace this goal and believe they are making progress, workers do not have as favorable a view of company efforts, the survey found, suggesting there is more for leaders to do.

Factors Driving the Need for Human Sustainability

Current trends in the workplace have the potential to leave workers worse off, with only 43% of workers saying their organizations have left them better off than when they started. The top trends adversely affecting workers include rapidly evolving skills needs (81%), burnout and exhaustion (78%), and mental wellbeing risks (78%), the survey found.

Workforce wellbeing continues to stall, with just 56% of workers feeling their overall wellbeing is “excellent” or “good”, relatively unchanged since 2022. The situation is dire at all levels, with at least 40% of workers, managers, and executives “always” or “often” feeling exhausted or stressed.

Worker engagement, loyalty, and trust are also at risk, Deloitte noted. Engaged workers and those who trust their leaders were 2.5 times more likely to say their company is advancing human sustainability than disengaged workers and workers who don’t trust their leaders.

Around 70% of workers say an increased commitment to human sustainability would improve their overall experience at work, increase their engagement and job satisfaction, lead to greater productivity and performance, desire to stay with their company long-term, and trust in their company’s leadership, the survey showed.

Bridging the Perception Gap

The survey found that 93% of executives and 88% of workers believe a company’s purpose should extend beyond profits. However, only 56% of workers feel their company is actually advancing human sustainability, compared to 82% of the C-suite who believe they are making strides.

This perception gap suggests that leaders may be in the dark about the realities faced by their workforce, Deloitte noted. Around 90% of executives think that working for their company has a positive impact on employees’ wellbeing, skills development, career advancement, sense of belonging, and purpose. Yet 60% or fewer workers agree with this assessment, the survey found

To bridge this divide and drive meaningful progress on human sustainability, it is critical for leaders to engage directly with workers to gain an accurate understanding of their needs, values and experiences, the report stated.

How Leaders Can Unlock Human Sustainability Progress

To drive progress on human sustainability outcomes, leaders should take proactive steps to ensure that human sustainability is prioritized and valued at the highest levels, Deloitte advised.

One crucial step is to put the right metrics in place. While fewer than two out of three executives say their company currently uses human sustainability metrics, around one-quarter plan to adopt them in the next one to two years. These metrics should focus on measuring human outcomes, including skills development, wellbeing, purpose, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), career stability, and societal impact.

Organizations should also make public commitments to improve human sustainability. In the survey, 82% of executives agree that companies should be required to publicly report their human sustainability metrics. However, 81% of the C-suite admit they’re not doing enough when it comes to their commitments.

Another way to increase accountability is to tie compensation to achieving human sustainability metrics. Surprisingly, workers at all levels would like their pay to be linked to their contributions toward a greater human impact, the survey showed. In fact, 88% of the C-suite, 83% of managers, and 76% of workers prefer for at least 25% of their compensation to be tied to human sustainability metrics. At least 70% of C-suite leaders say their company ties or will tie compensation for executives, managers, and workers to these metrics within the next one to two years.

Leaders should also go beyond sustainability programs and benefits to address worker issues. Over half of workers (52%) say paying them fairly would go a long way toward improving their wellbeing, the survey found.

To view the full survey, visit the Deloitte website. &

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected].

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