Everyone wants to be sustainable. What can Angestellte Schweiz contribute to this?
Stefan Studer: I am firmly convinced that every organization can and should help to make the world a better place: for people, for the environment and also so that economic development is possible. In other words, with regard to all three dimensions of sustainability. This is not a new topic for our association, quite the contrary. Sustainability is part of our DNA.
What does that mean?
The association has taken the issue of sustainability seriously ever since it was founded. We are always concerned with empowering our members in social, economic and ecological matters. We believe in helping people to help themselves. That's why we supported the UN's Sustainable Development Goals right from the start. All our employees have selected one of the 17 goals and raise awareness of it in their daily work.
Social sustainability is closely linked to an association that represents the interests of employees. What does Angestellte Schweiz focus on?
We are committed to fair and modern working conditions. From work content to working hours to wages. Simply everything that makes a good workplace. We exert influence on this. In close exchange with the employee representatives who are committed to the well-being of the employees in their company.
What are the main tools?
We have a wide range of tools. Firstly, there is the wide range of training courses. We prepare our members for the job market, today and tomorrow. With the Career Booster, they can see what their qualifications are worth and where they need to catch up. In other words, we make sure that employees can use change as an opportunity. In 2022, more than 1,300 people took part in one of our training courses, and the trend is rising.
«We believe in helping people to help themselves.»
And beyond that?
Collective labor agreements are important. We are committed to working conditions that are better than those prescribed by law. We also have a direct impact on social sustainability through benefits that our members receive, whether for health insurance premiums, mortgages or other services. In addition, we are committed to a tax policy that provides relief for the middle class.
What issues have become more important recently?
Clearly the concern for the mental health of employees. The pressure has increased enormously in recent years. We are committed to ensuring that work does not make people ill, but is compatible with family life. We support this with the app «Do something?!», which we launched in collaboration with WorkMed, the competence center for psychiatry and occupational medicine in the canton of Baselland. Actually, this is not a new topic for us. Ever since the association has existed, it has been concerned with health. But back then, the focus was on accident prevention and occupational safety.
Many of these efforts represent a cost factor for companies. Doesn't that run counter to economic sustainability?
Anyone who argues this way has a very short time horizon. Our basic understanding is completely different. Companies can offer attractive jobs thanks to a modern CLA. This makes it easier for them to find qualified workers. This is an enormous advantage in view of the increasing shortage of skilled workers. At the same time, employees are more motivated. And that has a positive effect on their performance.
«We want to make Switzerland as attractive a place to work as possible.»
That means the association has the same interests as the companies?
That is the case with many issues. We want to make Switzerland as attractive a place to work as possible and improve its competitiveness and innovative strength. With further training and offers for mental health, we ensure that in particular older employees remain in the work process. This not only benefits the people concerned. The social insurance funds also benefit, and so does the business location as a whole. We always seek dialog with companies. The Allianz platform is a good example for this. Together with other independent employee and professional associations, we work on innovative solutions to issues relating to education, social and economic policy.
Almost all large companies want to become climate-neutral by 2050 or sooner. Why do we still need Angestellte Schweiz when it comes to environmental sustainability?
Announcements on climate protection are one thing. The other is concrete measures for implementation. This is where many companies have a considerable gap. In fact, the need for adaptation is enormous. All processes must be adapted so that greenhouse gases are no longer produced. Or they must be neutralized. Buying CO2 certificates is not enough. Employees have an important role to play in this fundamental transformation.
What does it look like?
They know the processes and procedures inside out and know where things can be improved. This means they can propose practical solutions. In addition, employees are needed to ensure that changes are implemented. Only if everyone supports the direction taken can the necessary savings be achieved quickly. In terms of energy and raw material consumption as well as CO2 emissions. This is where we can help to get all employees on board. For this reason, we are working with the swisscleantech business association to empower employee representatives even better to champion environmental and climate issues in the workplace. In this way, we can have a major leverage effect, especially with smaller companies.