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Why is sustainability a vital part of workplace culture?

11 Dec 2020 | Gudrun Ravetz | Environmental issues

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BVA past president and Vet Sustain Director, Gudrun Ravetz discusses why it is important to embed sustainability into the culture of your veterinary workplace.

Why is sustainability a vital part of workplace culture? Image

Throughout all of the meetings and discussions at BVA’s Good Workplace Working Group, it was evident that the culture of the workplace was both the chicken and the egg when it came to getting everything else right.  Without an understood and defined culture, it would be difficult to make any meaningful and impactful difference on any of the other six areas identified: health and wellbeing; diversity, equality and fair treatment; workload and flexibility; reward and recognition; personal and career development; management and HR processes.  Yet how the other areas are tackled and accomplished, impacts on how culture is really defined and actioned by the whole workplace. 

BVA’s report and voluntary workbook have invaluable detail on culture to help veterinary workplaces define the right culture for their workplace so that it can be a thriving, sustainable, productive and happy environment.  The report says that culture is ‘the character and personality of an organisation. It's made up of the organisation's leadership, values, traditions and beliefs, and the behaviours and attitudes of the people in it’There are many important strands to culture within an organisation, but social responsibility is a core aspect, and sustainability is a vital part of this. The principles of sustainability should be embedded in workplace culture.  Putting sustainability at the centre of workplace culture means that everyone owns it, everyone can impact it and it empowers everyone to make a sustainable difference in their workplace and beyond.

Putting sustainability at the centre of workplace culture

The climate crisis will have a direct impact on veterinary professionals and their workplaces. The work of veterinary professionals impacts all aspects of the triumvirate of animals, people and the natural world, with a unique ability to not only affect and influence the sustainability agenda in their own workplace, but to have an impact on that of their customers. So, there is a moral responsibility for the the veterinary workplace to embed sustainability in its culture and there are also positive business, financial and employee wellbeing benefits. 

We know from the BVA work on Motivation, Satisfaction and Retention that how an employee fits within the workplace is important for their motivation, satisfaction and retention within the workplace. There is an increasing desire for employees to work in businesses that prioritise sustainability and a 2019 BVA survey found that 89% of vets want to play a more active role in the UK sustainability agenda. The employee motivation for a culture of sustainability is evidenced. A culture that includes sustainability will help employees fit their personal and professional sustainable journeys with that of their workplace.

Many veterinary professionals and their workplaces are already on a sustainability journey but it is worth reflecting whether this personal and professional sustainability drive is mirrored throughout the workplace and is embedded in the culture. Using BVA’s Good veterinary workplaces workbook and voluntary code and engaging with resources and communities at Vet Sustain you can help to action a culture of sustainability in your workplace. Not only will this help the wider picture of natural environment, people and animals but it will inspire your customers, engage all those in the workplace and improve wellbeing within the workplace.

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