Naturally, you want to attract the best and brightest talent to your business. So when you’re looking at your recruitment strategy, it’s vital to keep in mind that job seekers aren’t just weighing up salaries and benefits when deciding whether to apply for a role or accept an offer.

Candidates value a business’s stance on Environmental, Social and Governance and are more likely to leave if it doesn’t align with their values.

Here’s why, and how you can attract and retain top talent.

Employees are more alert to ethical and sustainability practices

Environmental, social and governance credentials are more important than ever as consumers increasingly expect brands to be socially active – including their employer. People are looking at what a company is committed to in terms of achieving zero carbon status or whether they are supporting diversity and inclusion.

New research by Robert Half, a specialist talent solutions consultancy, shows that nearly two in five (38%) employees would look for a new role if they thought their employer was not doing enough on ESG issues.

And a survey of 2,000 UK adults from Bupa shows that 52% said they would stay longer than they otherwise might with a company that had made ESG commitments and also recommend it to others as a good place to work.

ESG scores points with Gen Z

Having grown up in the recession, escalating climate crisis, and a pandemic, millennials and Gen Z feel a need to make positive change in the world. Equality, diversity and inclusion is important to them as well as a concern for their mental health and the environment

Bupa’s survey also revealed that Gen Z were more likely to prioritise a potential employer’s commitment to sustainability over what it could pay them. More than half (54%) said that they would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a business that reflected their ethics, while 31% said that they would turn down a job offer from a company if they weren’t happy with its ESG credentials.

How to attract candidates with ESG

If your business has ESG-informed business practices and policies, this gives candidates the signal that you are a purpose-driven, inclusive and progressive employer.

Going green

According to a survey of 1,000 UK employees by TheTalentPeople, 33% said they think that climate change has affected how they search for job opportunities. Of these people, more than two thirds (68%) said they’d like to work for an employer that is doing something positive for the future of our planet.

You could update your corporate values to include social and environmental goals, publish ‘green’ goals on your website and include successes in your annual reports. Candidates looking for information about your company will be able to access this.

Selecting a small team of people who are responsible for sustainability initiatives in the workplace can do wonders for your efforts. It creates accountability – there are people specifically responsible to encourage a culture of sustainability and to get ideas from employees.

It’s not just about the salary

When it comes to attracting new talent, it’s no longer just about the most competitive salary package.

In a recent survey by consultancy Global Tolerance, 44% said that meaningful work that helped others was more important than a high salary, and 36% said they would work harder if their company benefitted society.

You need to make sure your ethical policies, social impact and any support you give to the community is visible to candidates.

Strong company values can be really inspiring, as can a Code of Practice or Ethical Code which guides how your employees work together and engage with customers or society. It may talk about, for example, how you ensure any waste from your business is recycled appropriately

If you can show that you’ve taken the right steps towards becoming more ethical, this can be more attractive to potential candidates and help with retaining existing employees.

Workforce health

It’s not surprising that job seekers place a high value on mental wellbeing.

Research shows that 88% of candidates consider the mental health and wellbeing strategies offered by an employer to be important when searching for a role.

Playing a part in this can be the initiatives your offer that put mental health support first. This could be anything from wellness days, no-meeting Fridays or the support of mental health champions. In a report from Glassdoor, 58% of employees placed more emphasis on employee benefits relating to physical and mental wellbeing than they did financial ones.

And whether it’s in your job postings, on employer career pages or social profiles, or during communications with candidates, a mention of your company’s wellness efforts can say a lot about the culture too, which goes a long way in attracting and retaining employees.

Equality, Diversity and inclusion

In this report from recruitment company Hays, more than half (58%) of 5,200 UK workers surveyed said they look for an organisation’s diversity policies when researching a potential new employer.

People also value inclusivity, respect and flexibility. Candidates want a supportive environment that gives a voice and opportunities to everyone – from the boss to the trainee – with the view that this is what encourages innovation and change.

To demonstrate you are an inclusive employer, you need to let your actions speak for themselves. Promote pay equity, make sure your people are aware of unconscious bias, develop more inclusive workplace policies – this might include allowing employees to take religious holidays off, offering on-site childcare or extending the option for flexible working hours.

Your EDI policies should be updated and reviewed regularly, and regular training given to all employees. They should be aware of policies and procedures and what’s expected of them.

It’s clear that when it comes to recruitment, ESG is no longer a nice to have, it’s a must. If you have any queries about how to improve your approach to ESG, just get in touch with our team at [email protected].