If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that putting purpose as a priority is absolutely vital – for the world and for businesses. Awareness of social issues and the part businesses have to play in addressing them, is higher than ever.
Now, when people are on the hunt for new roles or taking their first steps into the job market, they’re looking beyond the benefits an organization can offer to individuals and rather toward the moral and ethical values that hold the company together – whether that’s social initiatives, diversity and inclusion (D,E&I) activities or sustainability efforts.
In fact, research suggests that over 50% of workers would stay longer at a company with good ESG (environmental, social, and governance) credentials than they might otherwise.
With ESG at the forefront of the business agenda globally, candidates want to know how their role will be contributing to the bigger picture.
It’s no longer enough for organizations to just say they are doing something, they need to ensure their actions and agendas live up to their purpose-led promises and truly show they’re doing something. This can be make or break in such a sharp-elbowed jobseekers market.
Demonstrating the doing
It’s one thing saying a business cares about ESG, and another thing demonstrating that. Jobseekers are highly vigilant and do their research before they apply for positions, meaning there’s very little an organization can hide.
Even at the interview stage, it’s not just about the candidate, but also about scrutinizing the business. Prospects will often come with questions about company initiatives and want to see concrete evidence that the business they are applying to is making a true and real impact – and not just for employees, but for wider society.
By having credible and published detail about what organizations are doing, that can be easily found on the company’s website and promoted on social media, businesses can prove to their audience that they are making steps towards addressing key societal issues. And having this backed up by third parties is key.
Using independent bodies for validation is a key differentiator within such a competitive market. By being able to prove that you’re not just saying we’re doing something, but meeting the standards of an external organization, you’re able to demonstrate to our staff and prospects that we’re committed to a sustainable future.
Everyone has a stake
While not every job has a direct line into sustainability or social initiatives, job seekers want to feel that they are contributing to the wider picture. Candidates want to see that their personal values are reflected in the organizations they work at, or at least that they have the scope to propose new company-wide initiatives.
As such, businesses are having to adjust their approach to recruitment and retention as priorities shift, offering up a more transparent, open and honest business model that everyone has a say in.
It is no longer enough for organizations to have an individual task force or leadership team, instead, they should focus on having regular open conversations with any employees who wish to join – no matter their level or position.
Research has found that this is particularly key for those individuals who are just starting out their careers, with 54% of Gen Z jobseekers suggesting they would be willing to take a pay cut in order to work for an organization that reflects their personal ethics.
It’s critical therefore that to attract these prospective employees, businesses understand what these ethics are and address the key societal issues affecting their people.
A motivator for better business
It should come as no surprise that when people feel invested in the values of the business, better results follow. For employees working with an organization that they feel cares about them, and broader society, and reflects their own personal values, morale, motivation and overall job satisfaction can be enhanced.
For example, having strong D,E&I policies and initiatives are absolutely vital in not only showing that your business is committed to attracting diverse talent but promoting better work too.
With people coming from different backgrounds and, therefore, having a diverse range of lived experiences, this means they can provide new perspectives. As such, this enhances creativity and idea generation in the business, which eventually leads to more innovative products and services.
Research has shown that in a diverse workforce, performance improves by 12%, whilst intent to stay grows by 20%. Having a diverse workforce serves to nurture a rich culture where employees feel valued, respected, and included.
As such, having comprehensive initiatives in place to nurture and improve diversity within the organization has benefits not only for staff but for overall results.
At SAP, we’ve committed to attracting talent from all backgrounds and promoting a diverse workforce.
As such, we introduced an inclusive interview framework to help counteract bias and ensure that each and every candidate has an equal footing when they apply for a position. This ensures we focus on what matters – their experience and potential to thrive at the business.
Putting purpose first
Employees and potential prospects are recognizing the vital part businesses have to play in driving a positive impact on society and the planet.
Talent is more vigilant than ever and are ready to hold businesses accountable if their claims don’t stand under scrutiny. Leaders need to recognize this and demonstrate their commitments through concrete actions, policies and initiatives.
The businesses that take real and meaningful action, and lead with purpose in everything they do, will be the ones to enjoy the benefits of a more satisfied workforce that deliver better outcomes – for their customers and themselves.
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