A happy and engaged workforce is one of the most important sources of competitive advantage for organisations. Engaged employees are loyal to their organisation and more likely to provide exceptional service. They also go the extra mile to help you meet your corporate goals.

But it's getting harder to attract and hold top talent. This could be due to the declining number of the working-age population. As more companies emerge, there is also increased competition for workers. 

Are you looking to attract employees who are passionate about sustainability? Read on for seven sustainable employment practices that help sustainable businesses.

What Is Sustainable Employment?

Sustainable employment is the ability and willingness of employees to stay in employment now and in the future. Often, it is the outcome of sustainable employment practices.

Sustainable employment benefits both the employer and the employee. The employer retains a pool of willing and engaged workers, whereas the employee stays employed and grows their abilities.

Many companies have been able to attract top talent because of their sustainable employment practices. Modern employees don’t want to work for unrespectable companies whose practices harm society.

Our research shows that around one-third of employees ranked working for a respected and caring employer as their number one consideration when determining career choice. Sustainable business ideas can save you money while attracting the best talent in the employment pool.

1. By Being a Sustainable Business

Sustainable businesses are naturally attractive to the current generation of workers. A Gallup study found that 71% of workers consider a company’s environmental record when deciding on an employer.

Why are employees so attracted to sustainable organisations? First, it's a source of pride to work for a respectable and ethical company. Sustainable organisations are also more likely to care for employee welfare.

Finally, employees want to work for a company whose values align with their core values. For instance, a humanitarian will struggle to work for a company that owns sweatshops in Third World countries. 

Companies that want to attract talent through their sustainable business practices must have a real social purpose. Organisations may be able to dupe the public and potential recruits by "greenwashing" their image. That is pretending to be greener than they are. 

But this is a dead-end strategy. Once hired, employees will know if you are exaggerating your environmental friendliness. They may then damage your reputation by resigning and publicising any untruths your company may have spread.

To avoid this, come up with a social vision and purpose as well as sustainable business ideas to achieve your goals. 

2. Sustainable Businesses Provide responsible business Opportunities

Human beings have an innate need to live a life of meaning. Maslow called it self-transcendence and described it as a need to devote your energies to something bigger than yourself.

Sustainable companies help employees fulfil this need by providing corporate citizenship in their work opportunities. For example, at Randstad we give back by using our recruitment knowledge and expertise to carry out CV workshops, mentoring programmes and even partnering with the Saracens Foundation to help prisoners find new job opportunities.

This is important because 74% of employees want to feel like their job matters. Providing corporate citizenship opportunities improves employee engagement, loyalty and the communities in which we operate. 

3. Through Their Triple Bottom Line Approach

Another way that sustainable businesses attract top talent is because they focus on three bottom lines: people, planet, and profit. Traditionally, business leaders were only tasked with one responsibility─ generating profits for shareholders.

Currently, an organisation that only focuses on profits will repel consumers and the workforce. Even investors recognise this and look at a company's sustainability when choosing where to invest.  

While profit remains important, companies now prioritise improving their employees and environments. Over 65% of companies list “inclusive growth” as their main focus. Making a positive impact on the environment can increase your sales while reducing your costs.

Also, treating your employees well increases their engagement and loyalty. They are more likely to adopt behaviours that increase your bottom line. 

4. Through Flexible Working Policies 

Flexible working is one of the sustainable employment practices that many sustainable businesses have adopted. If most of your employees work from home, your business will have less of a carbon footprint. Coincidentally, flexible working is seen as a perk by most employees, as according to a report by ESG Clarity, only 3% of finance professionals want to work full time from the office post-COVID-19. 

5. By Promoting Diverse through Inclusive Employment

Another way sustainable businesses attract top talent is through their commitment to diversity and inclusion. Sustainable companies seek the input of a diverse range of people to tackle whatever issues they face.

Leading employers realise that everyone has unique insights to bring to an organisation, shaped by their experiences. By hiring for skills, capability and growth a firm is able to hire talent that adds value to the culture through this insight.

To attract this sought after talent in a candidate driven market, sustainable organisations often have a diversity, inclusion and wellbeing strategy, and are members of respectable D&I initiatives. 

  • Randstad’s Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing awards, memberships and commitments:

6. Through Youth Employment

In some organisations, younger employees can be unfairly labelled as unreliable, unskilled, and uneducated. So, they are often hired for menial jobs only.

Sustainable companies hire for aptitude and then build capacity. This means that they look at a candidate’s attitude, desire to learn and potential rather than their experience or education.

Once hired, the company trains the new employee on the job requirements. Those employees with potential may also get training scholarships to complete their college education or get a certification. 

Giving young people a chance when they need it buys their trust and loyalty and may keep them at the company for years. Later on, when they become employable and most companies want them, the employee will prefer to stay with you or a similar sustainable company.

Many companies are fighting and losing the battle for the best talent. But by being patient and forward-thinking, they can identify younger, talented employees and nurture them for future needs.

7. By Having Great Employment Benefits

Sustainable companies often provide benefits packages that attract the best talent in the industry. Sustainable employment practices create a positive work environment that improves the mental, physical, financial and social wellbeing of employees.

Other than providing a competitive salary, sustainable companies provide perks such as health insurance, gym membership, and free cafeteria food. This makes their total package extremely competitive when compared with non-sustainable organisations.

In cases where a company can’t afford to pay high salaries or offer expensive perks, sustainable business ideas still make it attractive. Studies show that over 75% of millennials would take a pay cut to work with a sustainable company. 

In addition to monetary saving benefits and perks, there is also a growing culture of how your organisation treats its employees, customers and supply chain.  Accenture for example moved staff pensions to L&G because of initiatives such as the LGIM Girl Fund. Taking a stance on ethical trust is a really powerful way to change institutional structures and retain talent.

Learning About the Best Sustainable Employment Practices

Sustainable business ideas can benefit organisations by reducing their costs, increasing sales, and attracting the best talent. The modern workforce places great importance on sustainable employment practices. This is because sustainable companies can be a source of pride, and they are more likely to have aligned values with the employee. 

Everyone wants to work for a company that improves the world. Conversely, most people would hate working for a company that exploits people and the environment.

Do you run an ethical and sustainable business? If your answer is yes, be sure to highlight this as one of your biggest strengths when advertising for talent. 

  • If you're looking for your next job at a company that uses sustainable work practices, visit here

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