NP Group Blog

Sustainability and the Employee Value Proposition

Posted by Tim Gilbert on Jul 2, 2018 9:24:00 AM
Tim Gilbert

On the 5th June 2018, NP Group hosted our latest Technology Leadership Breakfast. The morning saw a fascinating speech from our Chairman Andy Green around sustainability and how businesses are and can respond. As the former Chief Executive of Logica and a board director at BT Andy has great insight into how large corporates are responding to the sustainability issues the planet faces and you can read more in his latest blog about some stand our organisations – link.

I wanted to delve a little deeper into one of the reasons many organisations are choosing to do more than just comply with the law around sustainability, namely introducing what many terms as a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) or Responsible Business strategy. An employee value proposition (EVP) explains why an employee would want to work for your company. It’s sets you apart from the competition and helps you attract and retain the talent you need. It helps attract employees that has values aligned to yours and showcases why you’re a great employer.

Sustainability and the Employee Value Proposition

In Andy’s speech, he noted that organisations are doing so much more than they need to do legally in regards to sustainability. On a straight balance sheet basis, sustainability issues shouldn’t be something that affect business. Affecting them in a positive manner requires investment and can reduce profitability. But there are external forces which encourage companies to do more. The third force Andy highlighted was employee engagement. He believes that many organisations use their stance on sustainability as a way to address talent shortages. We have all see the research; millennials are environmentally conscious. Forbes quotes that 81% of millennials expect their favourite companies to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship, so in turn it makes sense for organisations to do more and shout about it more to attract and retain talent (as well as get more business!).

This is why more and more are turning to sustainability as a USP when constructing their EVP. As an RPO provider, NP Group work with clients on their end-to-end recruitment strategy. Part of this is often helping develop their EVP. Over the last 5 years we've seen a huge increase in the focus and need for an element of sustainability to be included in EVP's across industries. It can be a big investment but it makes strong commercial and reputational sense. But why? In 2016, Fast Company conducted a Talent Trends study where they surveyed more than 26,000 LinkedIn professionals, asking them to share their top three  priorities when choosing an employer. More than two-thirds of respondents said that company culture and values are the two most important things they look for in an employer. This is particularly interesting because it isn’t just millennials this time. It’s the entire workforce who are represented on LinkedIn. So even if you’re not looking to hire a young workforce you still need to abide by these social norms.

The competition in talent acquisition is scary. Especially when you look at some of the niche areas we work in. There are way more jobs out there than qualified candidates, and we hear about the talent shortages in the media all of the time. With that backdrop it’s no wonder employers are looking to enhance their EVP to make themselves a more attractive employer than their competition. Many are working to find a balance between their reputation, brand, values and an efficient and effective talent acquisition and retention strategy. But there are so many ways it can go wrong. It’s one thing having a CSR/sustainability strategy in place but it’s another actually acting on it. If you’re not committed it’s not going to work.

When you get it right, using CSR as a core pillar in your EVP can actually reduce your recruitment costs and help generate a highly qualified pipeline of potential candidates. Take for example Ben & Jerry’s. Their mission is to improve the world’s overall well being and at the heart of their company is the belief that they are a social justice company. And they don’t keep this a secret. Their commitment to the planet is plastered covered their social media, website and PR. And as a consumer brand you’re likely to have run into one of their advertising campaigns at one time or another meaning you already understand this about them. As a result of their incredibly strong EVP they’ve managed to make the recruitment process pretty easy! They don’t worry about finding highly qualified candidates – they know they can. That’s because they’ve attracted so many people who genuinely want to work for a company with values like theirs. With CSR being one of the driving forces for choosing an employer Ben & Jerrys have it nailed. They’ve communicated their position and have made it so attractive they get the qualified candidates who are aligned to their vision and mission without having to do much of the leg work other employers do.

It’s clear to see that this trend of CSR and sustainability playing a critical role in talent attraction isn’t going away. It’s only a matter of time before all employer’s (whatever size the business) will start running their businesses in a socially responsibly away and shouting about the positive difference they make in the environment to boost their talent acquisition. It’s an interesting dynamic, but if recruitment can positively influence the way businesses behave I am fully behind it.