Sustainability: the winning factor in recruitment

Doing CSR by planting trees, CSR concept and business planting saplings of trees

In the competitive world of recruitment and retention Andrew Richardson shows that sustainable companies are leading the field

With sustainability on the rise, a number of sectors are putting their focus on improving various aspects of their business to offer greener alternatives and attract a more eco-conscious audience.

Many companies have either fully revamped their business models to reflect eco-friendly trends or have partially implemented sustainability strategies in the workplace. As a result, jobseekers are responding in a positive way to the changes, and that’s evident in their recruitment preferences.

According to a 2019 Totaljobs survey, millennials would be willing to take a pay cut of up to £11,400 to work for an eco-aware company. Generation X and baby boomers are also attracted by the promise of standing up for the environment at the expense of a higher salary.

So, how can businesses adapt to new jobseekers’ demand, and will that guarantee them a more skilled workforce?

Sustainability and recruitment go hand in hand

The main group of jobseekers who take a stance for sustainability are aged 23–38. In fact, the same Totaljobs survey shows that 50% would consider quitting their job to work for a more eco-friendly organisation.

This means two things for businesses. Firstly, forward-thinking companies who are focused on investing in a greener future can attract top talent. Secondly, companies will find it easier to retain the staff they already have by offering them eco-friendly incentives.

According to Lynn Cahillane, head of marketing at Totaljobs, this research demonstrates the importance of environmental concerns to the UK workforce and its expectations towards employers to contribute to ending the climate crisis.

“With a widely reported skills shortage, employers have the opportunity to showcase a clear commitment to reducing carbon emissions and helping tackle the climate crisis. A step which could make the difference in attracting the UK’s most sought-after workers”, says Cahillane. “A sustainability revamp can benefit not only talent search, but also employee retention. While organisations need to rethink their practices, “businesses that can’t communicate their environmental record could potentially suffer.”

Forward-thinking companies who are focused on investing in a greener future can attract top talent

Steps to a more sustainable workplace

Going green doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, and even small changes can make a massive impact. Changing your heating and fuel sources to a greener alternative is a great start. Knowing that they’re stepping into an eco-friendly environment can put your staff at ease.

Many forward-thinking businesses are now taking steps to create a brighter future for the planet.  With the alcoholic beverages industry huge in the UK, production and distribution pollution can be detrimental. But there are certain things that distilleries can do to reduce their carbon footprint. Knockdhu, a whiskey distillery based in Knock, is a prime example of doing things the sustainable way. When switching from oil to gas, the business saw an 18% decrease in its carbon emissions in the first year, followed by a significant reduction in fuel costs.

On a healthier note, Innocent Smoothies has been in the sustainability business for the last 17 years through using recycled plastic in its packaging and sourcing fruit from the Rainforest Alliance. The company’s efforts are recognised by its employees, as 92% of staff would recommend it as an employer to a friend on Glassdoor.

Corporate sustainability

What is it that makes young, talented people want to take the leap from earning a good living at a company that doesn’t prioritise sustainable practices to potentially taking a pay cut for the sake of the environment?

Certainly, company values are a top factor. Jobseekers are drawn to organisations whose values align with their own views and are authentically demonstrated at all levels of the business from the C-suite through to the front lines.

Naturally, eco-friendly practices elevate a company’s reputation, and potential employees believe that they would feel proud representing the organisation. Workplaces can showcase their distinctive reputation for sustainability by seeking recognition and awards from third-party organisations and genuine testimonials.

A sustainability ethos that complements a company’s people practices has a higher chance of standing out in the job market. Through introducing simple eco-centred challenges, such as cycling to work, recycling waste, and wearing second-hand clothing, you are engaging your employees in your sustainable endeavours. A ‘green employee of the month’ prize can go a long way in communicating your company ethos.

Recently, businesses including Unilever, Interface, Ikea, and DSM have come together to craft a 10-point plan to revamp corporate purpose by offering recommendations to tackle climate crisis and social inequalities.

Sustainability recruitment
As more and more companies are adapting to the new environmental demands from employees, new job positions are starting to emerge. Having a sustainability expert join the team positions the company as an eco-friendly leader and enables it to implement the best practices. This is referred to as sustainability recruitment.

Through building a network of sustainability professionals, companies are also opening their door to new clients who can benefit from the specialised eco-friendly services. It’s a win-win!
The solutions to a more sustainable future are definitely there, yet one question remains: are businesses ready to make the change and join the party of eco-conscious leaders? Only future recruitment trends will show.

Andrew Richardson is a copywriter working with Flogas

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