The New Year’s guide to living

The first order of the day is to look at the New Year as a time to change. January is when it is easiest to start a new habit, a new goal or even a new lifestyle.

But more than just our personal decisions to change a habit, it is also a good time for companies and leaders to start opening up to new ideas and maybe new ways of doing business.

I was at a forum where EU rules were being discussed for exports from our country and the rest of the world. Some exporters see the “greening of the supply chain” as yet another nontariff barrier because certification requirements would increase their expense.

Maybe this time, we should think of going green because it is our duty to do something right, not just to be profitable.

At the forum, there was a manufacturer of shoes made from pineapple fiber, a sustainable product looking for export markets. Why is he into this business? Because it is the right thing to do, he says. What is your green initiative this year?

More and more companies are looking to include diversity and inclusion in their work plans. The Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment has attracted more member companies. What does it take? If you are a company with forward thinkers in your management, it is about time to get certified as a company that empowers women and includes diversity as one of your goals.

If you are in the food business, it is about time to think of serving not just cheap but healthier fare as well to improve consumer health. If we run a company cafeteria, it is time to look for providers who not only sell affordable food to our employees, but healthier food as well. After all, the ones who decide are the management, Human Resources and Finance. You may be surprised that healthier food served in cafeterias may mean fewer sick days.

If you have not yet invested in inverter appliances, think again. These energy-efficient appliances, lights and other equipment save the company a lot of money through lower energy consumption while saving the planet. Yes, it may be expensive at the start, but savings as well as a smaller carbon footprint come as a reward for the planet and your bottom line.

Many factories now encourage employees to live near their place of work and avoid long commutes. They give their workers bicycles, motorcycle loans and other provisions so they can avoid long travel times. This also boosts the efficiency of workers who otherwise have to wake up early and get less sleep.

Companies can designate an area where employees can plant and grow their own vegetables. This  helps employees save on market trips and makes them more conscious about growing their own food. Even the lowly malunggay or moringa tree can give employees a lot of healthy meals at home or in the cafeteria. There are urban gardens, like plant towers, that can be started even in high-rise offices with decks or open rooftops.

Instead of just putting tree-planting activities in the Human Resources calendar, you can start allocating space for company gardens where employees can buy fresh vegetables or harvest what they plant.

Make a field day or a day outside a regular occasion for your town hall meetings rather than another gathering inside air-conditioned offices or hotels. Get some sun,  fresh air and let employees work or meet outside the office for a change. Go to a park or a farm, for a change. You may be surprised with better results when your team gets to commune with nature. Take your employees on a hike, go on a picnic or just let them breathe some fresh air regularly.

The best ideas come from the people who feel the heat of brownouts, high electricity costs and the high price of onions and rice. Listen to ideas from the smallest member or the one who had the simplest education. Green is the new black. Maybe they have ideas that can help your bottom line while you help mother nature. Reward suggestions on how to make your company greener, healthier or safer.

Ready to start turning a new leaf? Start with yourself, then your family and then your company. If everyone just did something different to make the world a better place, we will all be able to take 2023 by the horns and hope for a better, healthier year. But we have to start with ourselves.

What habit can you change this New Year?

This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or MAP.


Chit U. Juan is a member of MAP’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Agribusiness Committee. She is chairwoman of the Philippine Coffee Board and councilor of Slow Food for Southeast Asia.