From education to employment

Sustainable employment is on its way – and here’s why

Sustainability might well be front of mind when it comes to us all doing the right thing by the planet we all call home.

But who is talking about sustainability when it comes to employment? A few people, maybe. But not enough, says Mark Telford, Managing Director of Forth. Mark tends to see things coming over the horizon before many of us. That’s part of what’s stood him in good stead over 22 years of running a pioneering, award-winning, solutions business. He was onto ‘SME’ doubling up as ‘Subject Matter Expert’ as well as Small or Medium Sized Enterprise before most of the rest of us. So when he starts talking about #sustainableemployment we know he’s onto something, and we know it’s definitely worth listening to.Mark says the time is coming soon – and believes it’s already here for some – when we need to start seriously talking about – and acting on – #sustainableemployment.

So what does he mean by that? He means where people develop meaningful employment careers with an organisation. Where they are invested in the ethos of a company. Where they want to be the best they can be. Where they can reach their full potential. Where they are passionate about helping others. Where they love giving back to the communities where the company operates. Where people can be their real selves. Where there’s a #sustainable relationship between the individual, the company, the clients and the community – through #employment. Where people actually enjoy coming to work. 

“We want to create opportunities for people where it does not feel like you are coming to work – instead it feels like you are enjoying your life,” says Mark. “Somehow we need to get away from this stigma of a job being what you don’t want to do – and you only enjoy life when you are outside of work.”

You know what he means – the culture of Friday can’t come fast enough, making ‘hump day’ a milestone because it’s half way through the working week, people always doing down what they do at work, the list goes on. Mark sees sustainable employment as part of a much-needed sea change.

“If you enjoy coming to work – and are excited about what you do it has enormous knock-on benefits for the individual, not just for the business.

“It helps your mental health, your sense of worth and well-being, and helps create a community with your colleagues at work who celebrate the good times with you and can support you through tough times as well – just like friends outside work do.

“I don’t know how we got here as a society – others will be more qualified than me to explain that – but we seem to have fallen into a trap whereby work is seen as ‘bad’, and only things outside work are ‘good’. That’s not a healthy way to live. We all spend a lot of time at work, so we need to find a different approach to that.

“It also makes a mockery of a work/life balance. Because if you see all the time at work as a deficit – how many positives do you need outside work every day to balance that up – and what are those things? 

“Is that in danger of leading us to a society where people are always dissatisfied and chasing material gains and quick-fix satisfaction just to get over their perceived boredom with work and their job? That’s not a sustainable society is it?

“Instead, if you see work as part of the enjoyment of life you are already halfway there – and surely then you have a much better chance of having a positive work/life balance.

“That’s sustainable employment. Where work becomes far more than just the bit of the day to get over with. Instead it’s a fulfilling and rewarding part of life.

“It’s a concept where everyone wins – not just the individual, the company and the client – but also the wider communities,” says Mark.

“If individuals thrive, businesses succeed and investment flows back into communities – it’s the model for successful sustainable local, regional and national economies.

“So we need to find a way to achieve sustainable employment together, because there are real opportunities from this anywhere in the UK, but especially here in West Cumbria right now with all the developments and initiatives which are on our doorstep.

“A vibrant cluster of expanding SMEs offering sustainable employment magnifies several-fold the positive impact on communities we all want to achieve.

“These SMEs expanding helps multiple community services because of the business’ local roots, pride and desire to help the communities where they operate.

“It results in more support for schools, health, society’s most vulnerable and the environment.

“In my mind, that’s what sustainable employment can deliver for our society, our people, and our communities.”

Which is why, says Mark, if #sustainableemployment isn’t enough of a thing yet. It needs to be. And soon.

*If anyone agrees and wants to join together to help make a positive difference Mark invites you to get in touch with him at Forth.

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