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Why sustainable companies will attract the best talent in the future

As the world becomes more focused on sustainability and protecting the environment, jobseekers are starting to pay more attention to these factors when looking for employment. This is backed up by a 2019 Totaljobs survey, which showed that millennials would be willing to take a pay cut of up to £11,400 if it meant working for a company which helps the environment. Both generation X and baby boomers also said they would take a reduction in pay for this reason.

Today we look at how sustainability in the workplace—whether that be company policies, carbon footprint targets or green initiatives for staff—can help attract the best talent and how it could be the future of recruitment.

Sustainability is key

In the same Totaljobs survey, 28% of people said they would consider quitting their job to work for an organisation they considered to be more environmentally friendly. This figure jumps to 50% for people aged 23-38.

This points to two things; firstly, companies who focus on investing in a greener future can attract top talent and secondly, those who don’t face the difficult task of retaining the staff they already have.

Talking about the research at the time, Lynn Cahillane, Head of Marketing at Totaljobs, said: “Our research demonstrates just how important environmental concerns are to the UK workforce and how they expect their employers to contribute towards stopping the climate crisis. For employers, this presents a unique challenge, but also an opportunity.


“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.

“As well as its growing role in attracting talent, organisations also need to address their practices to ensure they are retaining staff, too. The findings tell us that people are prepared to leave their job for a greener role, so businesses that can’t communicate their environmental record could potentially suffer.”

It’s something which should make companies stand up and take notice. There are still simple and effective ways to become greener in both the short and long-term—ones which will help attract and retain key members of staff.

Changing the process

Becoming greener can be as simple as installing energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in offices. As the world’s offices start to re-open, this is a quick way to reassure staff that they aren’t stepping into an environment that’s bad for the one outside the parameters of the office.

Switching to a cleaner energy supply for work production or transit of goods is also good way to drive down carbon emissions and become more sustainable.

In the world of alcoholic beverages, distilleries rely on a continuous fuel supply. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be environmentally conscious. Take Knockdhu for example, who decided switching from oil to gas was the ideal way to lower costs and reduce its carbon emissions. As a result, they saw an 18% decrease in their carbon emissions in the first year (find out more about how to offset carbon emissions).

Brewdog is another example from the industry. The Scottish beer producer recently announced it was the first carbon-negative international beer business. This is thanks to a £30 million investment plan to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Innocent Smoothies has used recycled plastic in its packaging for the last 17 years, and sources fruit from the Rainforest Alliance. The business reaps the rewards of its efforts, as 92% of staff would recommend it as an employer to a friend on Glassdoor (a forum for current and former employees to review companies).

Sustainability recruitment

Something that is becoming more common is sustainable recruitment. This is a strategy where sustainability is priority number one during the hiring process. Recruiters concern themselves with building networks of sustainable companies and candidates.

This helps businesses plan their sustainability goals and build a brand that focuses on being green—something which is an attractive proposition for job hunters all over the world.

Sustainability is becoming crucial to compete in the business world. That’s why this type of recruitment could be a good way for businesses to hire talent and achieve environment-focused goals.

A strong social conscious

A separate report from PwC discovered 70% of people wanted to work for a company with a strong social conscience. This isn’t just about a change in the way you operate to benefit the planet, it’s a unique opportunity to remarket your business and acquire new talent.

Implementing a strategy like corporate sustainability can help your business focus on important social and environmental issues. But this doesn’t just mean talking about them—it means seeing them as responsibilities.

In recent times, business sustainability leaders have joined forces to craft a 10-point plan to revamp corporate purpose. The likes of DSM, Ikea, Interface and Unilever have worked with the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership. They have worked to outline key recommendations for businesses to consider in order to embed a sense of purpose across their hierarchies.

It covers everything from taking an ‘outside-in’ view that engages external stakeholders and a ‘inside-out’ view that involves employees—with a particular focus on social and environmental impacts.

Something as simple as introducing green challenges for employees could help them to feel engaged and loyal. This will make them less likely to look elsewhere for employment. The challenges could be anything from cycling to work to wearing recycled clothing. You could even keep a league table and reward people with a ‘green employee of the month’ prize to help instil a sense of environmental inclusion.

With the process changes and examples mentioned, a more sustainable future for businesses doesn’t need to start tomorrow, it can start today.