Environmental issues are becoming more of a talking point than ever, and many of us are starting to prioritise the impact we have on the environment in our daily lives. More of us than ever are conscious about how we travel, the amount of waste we produce, and other renowned factors for damaging the planet. Now, as COP26 has reminded us of the crisis we face, this is becoming an even greater concern. As a result, consumers are becoming more concerned with their impact on the planet. Research shows that 66% of consumers would spend more on a product from a sustainable brand, and 81% of global consumers strongly feel that companies should help improve the environment.
However, it’s not just individuals who will have to look at the impact they’re having on the environment. It’s been found that 59% of workers in the US (70% globally) say environmental responsibility matters more to them now than it did a year ago, and 45% of US workers (51% globally) would exclude companies that don’t match their beliefs in environmental responsibility.
If employers wish to attract the best talent in the future, they’re also going to have to start prioritising sustainability and environmentally friendly practices in a real and impactful way.
Therefore, we’re investigating the rise in environmental EVPs.
Over the last two years, what candidates expect from an employer has changed dramatically. We’ve all started to value flexibility and work-life balance more, as well as reconsidering how employers and company culture affect our lives.
Now, we’re starting to see more of an expectation from candidates for employers to take responsibility for climate change and protecting the environment. As the workforce becomes more aware of these issues, for many, it’s going to have more of an influence on whether a candidate wants to work for them not. Millennials and Gen Z, in particular, are becoming more and more attuned to environmental issues. If they feel incredibly passionate about it, they’ll want to know that their future employer is doing all they can to protect our planet. But, on the other hand, it’s doubtful that someone passionate about the environment will want to work for a company if the CEO is flying between New York and London every week.
So, to attract and retain talent, employers must start thinking about how their efforts to help the planet are made clear throughout the organisation. The best way to do this is to include it in your Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Your EVP acts as a set of guidelines for candidates and employees so that they know what to expect from you as an employer. It covers both the tangible and intangible aspects of work life. It’s a chance to show them what you can offer culturally and emotionally, appealing to their passions, including dedication to the environment.
Done well, an EVP will become the lifeblood of your organisation and flow throughout all departments. No matter how big or small your company, an EVP will act as a base for company culture and employer brand; it will set the tone and manage expectations of both existing team members and new hires.
So why should employers consider adding their environmental considerations to their EVP?
Match the competition
Already, large corporations are being asked to publish their plans for reducing carbon emissions, including Amazon, Microsoft and Coca-Cola. It’s a legal requirement. All of these businesses hope to be net-zero by 2040 and could make a huge difference in the climate crisis if successful. If they wish to stand a chance in the race for talent, small businesses need to mirror this. If these large corporations set a precedent, candidates will come to expect all companies to be bold about their plans for reducing their carbon footprint. If you don’t, candidates who care about their environmental impact may choose to work with a company that clarifies their stance. In a competitive, candidate-driven talent market, smaller tech businesses are already competing for the likes of Amazon and Microsoft for the attention of the same limited talent pool. You could be putting yourself at a considerable disadvantage by not meeting the standard and being as open with your plans to help the environment. If knowing this information is important to your talent pool and existing team, you should consider making this information accessible.
Helps with your commitment to remote work
There’s a lot of discussion around whether remote working could help us to save the planet. With fewer of us travelling to work and global employees not having to fly in regularly thanks to the likes of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and more, emissions are down. If we’re all at home, we’re less likely to buy lunch, which means less food waste and single-use packaging used. Of course, there are questions about us all using energy in our homes instead of the office, especially in winter. But, in principle, remote working could have a hugely positive impact. If you’re an employer who has been toying with the idea of permanently offering remote work or hybrid work since the beginning of the pandemic, its impact on the planet could help make your decision for you. Workers want flexibility where possible (obviously, this is sector and role dependant), and it’s clear that in the future of work, many will want confidence that they’re helping the planet. Incorporating WFH into your EVP could make all of the difference in attracting eco-friendly talent.
It’s important to younger candidates
If you’re trying to make a futureproof talent attraction strategy, you need to ensure that your EVP appeals to Millennial and Gen Z candidates. As a generalisation, these are also the candidates who will care more about the environment as climate change is likely to have a significant impact in their lifetime.
Right now, millennials are becoming the largest workforce generation in the US. According to research, Millennials are willing to sacrifice a portion of their salary to work for a sustainable company and can provide social benefits. In addition, research by Fast Company has found that they are likely to choose to work for and stay long-term with a company that has a strong sustainability plan and can demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.
How can you make your EVP sustainable?
Be open about the changes you’re making
Whether through a company newsletter or in a quarterly meeting, there are many ways to update your current team on your work to help the environment. Set goals to reduce emissions or reduce the amount of waste produced in the workplace and try hard to measure your success against them. Even if you’ve just switched the lighting in your office to be more energy-efficient, it’s worth shouting about it to both your current teams and the wider world on social media. Honesty is the best policy. Even if it doesn’t make the impact you want right away, employees will see you’re trying to be more sustainable and may even adjust their own practices to align with your efforts.
Embrace remote work
In 2014, the Carbon Trust suggested that increasing the number of people working from home in the UK could save more than three million tonnes of carbon a year. Now that remote work is commonplace, and employees in a range of industries have proven they can do it successfully, it could have a hugely positive impact on the climate crisis. Let employees know that the environment is a contributing factor to your decision to work remotely and offer advice on how to save energy at home. Plus, those who need to come into the office for lifestyle reasons may feel lonely at home or have small children interfering with their working day. You could offer a cycle to work scheme or public transport schemes to encourage fewer workers to drive to the office.
Become paperless and reduce waste
Many offices were already becoming paperless, but it’s time to get real with the commitment. Reward employees for using less paper and invest in better scanners and cloud infrastructure to support this. The easier you make it to work without printouts, the less need your employees will have for them. You should also introduce recycling initiatives where possible within your workplace and reduce the need for waste by offering reusable cups and cutlery. Careful planning and effort across a business can make it possible to stop sending any waste to landfills, which can positively impact the environment.
Talk about it in your employer brand promotions
It’s easy to let your current team know about what you’re doing to become a more sustainable and environmentally friendly workplace. You can send out emails at the touch of a button to update them, and often, employees will be able to see the difference noticeably. However, to translate your efforts into your talent acquisition strategy, you’ll need to incorporate your commitment to the planet into your employer band communications.
Whether it’s a blog, social media or asking employees for testimonials, there are so many ways to show that you’re dedicated to becoming a sustainable workplace so that you can be as creative as possible. However, make sure it’s a regular feature of your employer brand communications. Today’s candidates aren’t silly, and they won’t be convinced of your commitments through one blog post about recycling or becoming paperless. Instead, just like your commitment to diversity and inclusion, your dedication to helping the environment needs to become a regular part of your employer brand communications to show you have integrity and intent. As it forms the basis of your EVP, sustainability should become a fundamental part of daily life in your organisation and, therefore, should be easy to promote to a wider audience.