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How Sustainability Recruits and Retains The Best Talent

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

  • Environmental credentials recruit the best talent, and helps retain employees

  • Starting the environmental journey is what counts

Creating a higher level of sustainability is never going to be the priority of small businesses and sole traders. There’s enough to do just creating income. However, environmental credentials are increasingly providing tangible commercial returns, and talent recruitment and employee retention are two of them.

Good environmental practice now has a real influence in attracting the best talent and combating employees leaving, and not in a small way. The traditional factors of salary and job title though important, are no longer the all defining features that attract individuals to jobs. And benefits such as free gym membership and private healthcare are a more limited attraction. Instead, people want to work for companies they can believe in both in an environmental and social responsibility context. There is plenty of evidence for this.

A detailed study by McKinsey found that the more robust a company ESG programme, the more likelihood the best talent will be drawn to it. Another recent survey, this one by Randstad of 35,000 people of working age, reveals that nearly 50 per cent of Millennials and Gen Zs want who they work for to mirror their social and environmental principles, and won’t join a company unless it does.

In the European Investment Bank's (EIB) latest Climate Survey, it found 61 per cent of British adults believe it is important that prospective employers address climate impact, with 15 per cent saying it should be the single most important task. And research by Talent Solutions reveals that most individuals want to work for organisations that reflect their beliefs on sustainability.

Equally, the causes of the Great Resignation are directly linked to whether employees feel they have a connection with companies, and wider company goals. After lockdown, people felt they needed more purpose from their work other than just income. They wanted to feel part of something positive, that does good as well as generating money. While the Great Resignation is abating as those that were going to leave companies have left, the underlying motivation remains.

So if you want to attract the best talent, and want employees to stay around, a credible environmental strategy is needed. This is going to become increasingly important as more people focus more on global warming and its causes.

Of course, very few businesses and sole traders aren’t going to find sustainable practice an extra burden. But it does create real commercial returns. In other articles we talk about how more than half of consumers and business buyers seek green credentials from those they purchase from. However, it’s not necessary to have well established environmental strategy to start benefiting.

The moment the sustainability journey begins the returns can start. This is because what people want to see is purposeful progress. They know every company and every self employed person has to start somewhere. They’ll buy into it if what they witness is credible, and many will follow progress if it is publicly described in narrative form. Tell target audiences about the story of progress.

But don’t announce intentions. This has a negative effect. There’s been too much greenwashing. Intention is often treated with cynicism due to the large number of instances where nothing, or little happens. Rather, explain the first steps once they have been taken, however small. Once progress has been made explain how long term plans are being met. And being seen to encounter problems along the way is actually a positive thing as long as a way is found to overcome them. In storytelling, there is nothing better than success after a setback. It’s what all great stories are based on. Broadcast the ups and downs of the journey.

To gain the greatest commercial return from climate action, it’s important to integrate messages on progress into sales and marketing strategy. Whether a business or sole trade, shout about it, broadcast developments wherever there is a channel to broadcast through – website, social media, blogs, public relations, advertising, even letterhead. Tell the story so that prospective employees, and existing and potential customers can see it. Also, keep staff up to date. In fact, there are big benefits from consulting staff for ideas on sustainability – we cover this in another article.

Rather than treating environmental practice as more work and expense, it can be a significant asset that makes companies and sole traders standout positively from rivals. At the very least, if all other factors are equal when prospective employees and customers are making decisions, they will opt for those with the best green credentials.

Get in touch with us for more advice about how we can help your company grow by developing and activating your brand across all marketing and media channels.

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