SUSTAINABILITY LEADERSHIP IN MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY. How to practice sustainable leadership to improve employee well-being

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: This thesis recognizes the challenge for leaders to practice social sustainability for employees in manufacturing industry. Herein, there is an apparent need to support leaders in regards to these practices. Declining employee well-being has been seen to jeopardize organizational competitiveness and the issue of social sustainability for employees has therefore received increased attention. This thesis aims to promote important aspects of employee well-being through sustainability leadership, connecting social sustainability for employees to organizational competitiveness. The research was based on a semistructured interview study of three case companies in Swedish manufacturing industry. Furthermore, by combining theories of social sustainability and sustainability leadership this thesis established a framework for analysis which was used throughout the entire study. The study’s conclusion presents an increased importance for sustainable leaders to emphasize communication and also accounting for individual needs of employees to create interconnected and valuable long-term relationships. Herein, the need to communicate does not solely fall upon the leaders. Instead, both the leaders and employees share the responsibility to create this interconnectedness. Moreover, matters of diversity, individual preferences, flexible working conditions and a holistic view of work were also considered central topics alongside open dialogues and feedback. The importance of common values and a consistent clarity in the company code of conduct was furthermore found to be of great significance. Sustainable leaders practice clarity, humility and personal leadership to promote employee well-being. This thesis has concertized sustainable leadership practices in regards to employee well-being; thus bridging the gap between social sustainability and organizational competitiveness.

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