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  • Sustainability
    • The Future of Work

Are sustainability credentials your biggest hiring advantage?

  • 3.5 mins read
  • Article

Companies who balance people, planet and profit are reaping the benefit when it comes to recruiting and retaining the best talent.

For many of us, the pandemic has been a time to reflect, to reassess our priorities – and that includes work. A McKinsey survey of US employees revealed that nearly half of their respondents were reconsidering what kind of work they did, with Millennials being three times more likely to say that they were reviewing their options.1

This has important implications for hiring and building successful teams. An article summarising the McKinsey survey findings drives the point home with the stark headline: “Help your employees find purpose – or watch them leave.”2

A tool to attract talent

Our Future of Work survey revealed a growing awareness that sustainability creds and ethos can be a noteworthy hiring advantage, particularly in areas like tech where competition for talent is fierce. An attractive company ethos could mean the difference between hiring motivated employees and costly churn.

Seven out of ten business leaders said that their companies would undergo a hiring drive in the next 12 months, with sustainability credentials being viewed as important for attracting or retaining talent by nearly a third (27%) of respondents.

Corporate social responsibility was another major consideration when it came to hiring (28%), with the ability to demonstrate a positive impact on the wider community seen as being of even greater importance for attracting talent (29%). And one in three business leaders are looking to hire personnel with specific experience in sustainability. Failing to attract talent with the relevant or necessary sustainability expertise was a concern for 31% of respondents.

96% of businesses see the workforce as having important role to play in improving their overall sustainability credentials

Sustainability creds: a must-have, not a nice-to-have

Steve Carter, a Non-Executive Director at digital recruitment agency Futureheads, who runs disability consultancy The Ability People with Paralympian Liz Johnson, points out that environmental, social and governance credentials (ESG) are imperative as consumers increasingly expect brands to be socially active – including their employer. He says: “Purpose is becoming a critical driver in choosing who you work for as evidenced by the growth of the B Corporation movement and accreditation.”

A survey by the recruitment agency illustrated that employees are looking for a renewed sense of purpose in their work lives, with 73% of technology jobseekers rating company purpose as very important to them in any new job.3

It's never been more important for businesses to develop a strong employer brand in order to attract and retain the very best talent.

Nathan Callaghan | Managing Director, Futureheads

The recruiter found that a company’s mission was second only to flexible working, sick pay and location in terms of priorities among job hunters. This was closely followed by health insurance benefits, and a company’s approach to both diversity and the environment.

These ESG credentials were rated even more highly by workers in the tech industry than available childcare support, social events, or office facilities. Futureheads’ Managing Director Nathan Callaghan concludes: “It's never been more important for businesses to develop a strong employer brand in order to attract and retain the very best talent.”

It’s a point that’s echoed in Getting to Net Zero, a study sponsored by HSBC and carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit.4 The report quotes Joachim Schleich, professor of energy economics and head of the energy management research team at France’s Grenoble Ecole de Management. Professor Schleich recognises that business school students today hold different views and values to previous generations. “Students don’t want to work in a company that has a high carbon footprint,” he says. “They are increasingly interested in classes that cover sustainability issues or carbon management.”

Transparency is key

More than nine in 10 businesses (96%) in our survey saw the workforce as having important role to play in improving their overall sustainability credentials. Offering tangible evidence that your company is committed to ‘building back better’ will help recruit the right talent to achieve this.

  • Clearly articulate your company’s purpose on your website
  • Provide proof points for your commitment to sustainability, eg progress towards the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs)
  • Highlight your company’s ESG record and sustainability training/learning opportunities in recruitment ads

HSBC Navigator: The Future of Work

The Navigator: Future of Work survey was conducted by FTI Consulting on behalf of HSBC. Research was conducted online from 3rd to 8th August 2021 with 2,130 respondents who are involved in or influence strategic direction for their company in 10 markets: UK, USA, UAE, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Mexico, Australia and Germany.

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