Sustainable performance: the art of combining productivity and social responsibility

12/20/2023
Temps de lecture : 6 mn
Emmanuelle Abensur
Emmanuelle Abensur
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Temps de lecture : 6 minutes

What if implementing a CSR approach (Corporate Social Responsibility) could also improve your company’s productivity and bottom line? That’s what the concept of sustainable performance is all about! Far from the traditional “make-a-profit-at-any-cost” models, this strategy involves rethinking the organization’s processes and ways of working to better reflect the principles of sustainable development.

Favoring a sustainable performance model can have many benefits for the organization. These include higher employee engagement, better talent retention, and of course, increased team productivity. More and more companies are aware of these benefits. As proof of this, 75% of executives questioned in a Deloitte study claim that their organization increased its investment in sustainable development over the course of 2022. 

Of course, it’s not enough to just drop money on CSR. The important thing is to implement tangible actions that will bring you a return on your investment in social, economic, and environmental terms.

So, what does sustainable performance really mean? How can we turn enterprise social responsibility into a performance driver? And what are the best practices for combining CSR and productivity? Follow the guide below! 👇

Sustainable performance: a new vision of productivity

Are you unfamiliar with the term sustainable performance? Here’s a definition to make things clearer: 

Sustainable performance defines an organization’s ability to achieve its financial objectives while making a positive impact on the environment, employees’ well-being, and society as a whole.

To achieve sustainable performance, organizations need to integrate sustainability objectives into their overall strategy. This means rethinking:

  • work and governance methods
  • processes and policies
  • the products and/or services offered
  • the tools they use internally
  • the service providers they use

Sustainable performance thus differs from the so-called “traditional” view of performance, which takes into account only the company’s financial impact, and not environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. 

Corporate social responsibility (CSR): a performance driver

CSR (Corporate social responsibility) has a key role to play in sustainable performance. It refers to all the initiatives implemented by companies in the field of sustainable development. According to ISO 26000 (the international standard for CSR), these initiatives span seven areas: 

  • organizational governance
  • human rights
  • relations and working conditions
  • the environment
  • fair practices
  • consumer issues
  • communities and local development
Seven areas of corporate social responsibility that can help you attain a sustainable performance

Implementing a CSR policy that takes these issues into account can be a real asset for your company, particularly in terms of: 

  • recruitment: 58% of employees believe that a company’s social and environmental commitments are an important criterion when choosing a job.¹
  • talent loyalty: 83% of millennials would be more loyal to a company that helps them get involved in social and environmental causes.¹

Investing in CSR can also improve your company’s productivity and profitability. The proof: companies that implement CSR actions are on average 13% more efficient than those that don’t²!

Challenges associated with sustainable performance

To successfully deploy a sustainable performance strategy, companies must sometimes overcome several challenges:

  • the difficulty of identifying which CSR actions will have the most impact
  • initial deployment costs that can often run up a bill
  • lack of commitment from management and staff
  • resistance to change
  • difficulties of measuring return on investment (ROI)
  • pressure from shareholders who demand short-term profits
  • constantly evolving CSR regulations

Of course, these challenges can be met. We explain how below.

How to pair productivity with CSR?

Aligning productivity and social responsibility targets is the challenge that any effective sustainable performance strategy must overcome. Here are the steps you need to follow to develop your own:

1. Run a CSR diagnosis

A CSR diagnostic is one of the first steps in implementing a sustainable performance strategy. This tool will enable you to assess your company’s level of maturity in terms of corporate social responsibility (on the environmental, societal and economic fronts). This will enable you to identify your strengths and weaknesses in this area—as well as possible areas for improvement.

Several companies offer this type of service. At Talkspirit, for example, we have chosen to work with Zei, a CSR evaluation and management tool.

2. Define your objectives

Based on this initial diagnosis, you can then define your sustainable performance objectives and the themes you wish to prioritize. For example, your objectives could focus on reducing your carbon footprint, improving employee well-being in the workplace, or supporting local communities.

To develop your objectives, we recommend using the OKR (Objective and Key Results) method. This allows you to associate each of your objectives with a concrete key result. These OKRs can then be entered on a platform such as Holaspirit so the entire organization can easily access them.

Tracking sustainable performance OKRs on Holaspirit
Tracking CSR OKRs on Holaspirit

3. Develop your strategy 

Now that your objectives have been defined, it’s time to design your sustainable performance strategy! For each of your objectives, identify one or more actions that pair productivity with socially responsible actions.

For example, if your aim is to reduce your digital carbon footprint, one of your actions could be to set up an all-in-one collaborative platform that streamlines the number of applications your employees use. Thanks to this action, you reduce the CO2 emissions linked to the use of digital tools, and at the same time increase the productivity of your employees, who no longer have to juggle between a thousand tools at once.

See also: How can you boost productivity with a collaborative platform?

Once you’ve completed your list of actions, you can then prioritize those actions, identify the people responsible for implementing them, and define the KPIs you wish to achieve. This will enable you to create a realistic schedule detailing when each action should be implemented and how you will evaluate its success.

4. Communicate, communicate, communicate

It’s all fine and well to implement new actions. But filling people in is just as important. To accomplish this, we advise you to create a communication plan listing all your CSR activity: 

  • all communications to be shared internally and/or externally
  • the launch date of these communications
  • the key message(s) to convey
  • the targets and timing of these messages
  • any associated goals
  • the person(s) responsible for communications
  • the format(s) of your communications

Internally, for example, you can plan dedicated publications on your enterprise social network or pitch actions at company events. Many internal communication tools exist to facilitate this. Talkspirit is one of them. Our platform makes it easy to share and access information throughout your organization. You can use it to: 

Creating a CSR action plan on Talkspirit’s project module

5. Follow up

The final step in achieving productivity and social responsibility is, of course, to monitor your actions on a regular basis (quarterly, for example). For each objective set, identify the success rate you’ve achieved. If you follow the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) method, you can consider a success rate of 60-70% satisfactory. On the other hand, if you achieve 100% of all your objectives, it probably means that they weren’t ambitious enough.

Once you’ve completed your assessment, share it with your team, and then reflect together on any corrective actions you’d like to implement. This will enable you to adapt your sustainable performance objectives accordingly.

Sharing a CSR report via a Talkspirit publication

The role of collaborative tools

Are you having trouble communicating about your sustainable performance approach and/or collaborating on the project with your team? Collaborative tools can help! Here are two tools you may find useful: 

  • Talkspirit, the all-in-one collaborative platform. No more days spent juggling a thousand different tools. With Talkspirit, centralize all your data in one place to establish a single source of truth (SSOT), and improve your teams’ productivity.
  • Holaspirit, the self-management solution that improves information transparency and boosts team agility. In particular, the platform enables you to identify who does what in the organization, what processes are in place, and what projects the teams are working on.

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Moving from financial performance to sustainable performance: this is the challenge facing organizations wishing to have an impact on society and the environment around them. We sometimes forget that such a strategy can also be a lever of productivity for companies. According to Deloitte, the majority of managers say that societal impact is the first success indicator they look at when assessing their company’s annual performance.

It’s possible to combine productivity and social responsibility. The key is to follow the steps outlined above, to be well-equipped, and to communicate effectively with your employees. So, how can you make a success of your in-house CSR communication? Talk to one of our experts today to discover the best tools and best practices for internal communication.👇

¹ Study by Cone Communications (2016)
² “Corporate social responsibility and competitiveness” report by France Stratégie (2016)

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