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Employer brand and ESG

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Employer brand is a crucial component of every business, and when it comes to recruitment strategy, it is of paramoun importance. But when a business is looking to boost its employer brand, it can be difficult to know where to start. Many factors make up employer brand, including a business’ stance on ESG communications and strategy.

In recent years, an employer’s ESG standpoint has become increasingly important to people on the lookout for new roles, especially the eco-conscious Gen-Z and Millennial generations. So for a recruiting business looking to take stock of how it is perceived by employees, current and prospective, this is a good place to start.

It is key for businesses to swerve accusations of greenwashing at all costs, and this means avoiding making false claims about or overinflating the business’ eco-credentials. To shed some light on the impact that greenwashing can have on a business, Sensu Insight’s 50 Shades of Greenwashing report found that just under a quarter (23%) of more than 1,000 employees said their organisation had suffered from accusations of greenwashing in past. For some businesses, greenwashing is a more frequent occurrence, with 8% of employees stating that it had happened to their organisation multiple times. In just under half of the reported cases, respondents could point to the specific harm these greenwashing accusations caused to their employing organisation. Many of these harms were financial or reputational, but greenwashing accusations also impacted an organisation’s workforce too.

First and foremost, it is hugely important that tangible work is going on to improve a business’ environmental impact.

Eight percent reported that employees left the business over the issue, and 6% of businesses found it increasingly difficult to hire talented staff. In some cases (7%), greenwashing accusations also caused senior leadership to lose their jobs.

This harm causes a hiring headache in any business, as roles are left vacant and the burden falls on remaining staff to fill them, and balance the workloads departing staff have left behind until their roles are filled. Staggeringly, nearly one in five (17%) said they had avoided working for an organisation because they believed it was guilty of greenwashing. What is clear from these findings is that greenwashing accusations can spell trouble for a business’ workforce on several fronts, but there are ways to avoid accusations in the first place, or tackle them more effectively when they arise.

Crafting an ESG strategy takes time and investment, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. But by sticking to some key principles, a business can ensure it is doing all it can to avoid unwarranted criticism.

First and foremost, it is hugely important that tangible work is going on to improve a business’ environmental impact, and open communication is key. Being transparent about the positive strides a business is taking can show ESG is one of its major priorities, and genuine improvements on this front may help a business earn trust from existing and prospective customers. 

However, opencommunication is necessary for both ESGwins and failures, even if the latter may seemincredibly difficult. Being held to account forfalling short on a target can help a businessgrow and find greater understanding, whileacknowledging issues can also help to garnerrespect from stakeholders. When creating orbuilding on an existing ESG strategy, if thetask at hand seems too large, employingexperts to assist could be the best decision abusiness makes.

Job hunters are looking to find out as much about a company as possible, which includes details of traditional benefits like gym memberships, annual leave entitlements and parental leave.

Aside from an employer’s ESG strategy, other elements of employer brand can have a huge bearing on recruitment too, like company culture. Job hunters are looking to find out as much about a company as possible, which includes details of traditional benefits like gym memberships, annual leave entitlements and parental leave. But company culture is so much bigger than just the perks that are on off er. Crucially, company culture can make or break whether someone enjoys their role or not. In order for companies to attract the right talent who will thrive among its working environment, company culture should be signposted in all of the initial recruitment stages, from job description through to the final interview. New employees should have a good idea of what their role will entail, how the business is structured and key aspects of the company’s culture before they walk through the door on their very first day. If company culture isn’t explained to new recruits, it’s possible the business will have an unhappy staff member further down the line.

Unhappy staff may depart and leave a vacancy, and if multi ple staff leave, this suggests a business has a staff retention issue too. Away from company culture, a business’ reputation as an employer can also be hugely important to recruitment too. If a business has a reputation for being a great employer that treats staff fairly, encourages progression, and works to ensure all of its staff are happy, then the recruitment team is likely to see the applications roll in. Existing employees who are proud of where they work are more likely to stay long-term, and perhaps spread the word to potential future employees within their networks and on social media. Referrals can be incredibly helpful for filling job roles with talented individuals, and it can save businesses on the costs associated with job advertisements and recruiter fees. But if a business has a reputation for breeding an unhealthy working environment, such as one where employees work long hours or receive little reward for their efforts, it might have a lot of work to do to remedy how it is perceived internally and externally. Employer branding reporting can help a business listen to its staff and understand how it’s perceived by jobseekers.

Employer brand is multi-faceted, and it is unique to every organisation. Getting it right could spell wonders for a business on so many levels, while getting it wrong could have devastating consequences. Employer branding can be complicated, but the good news is it is never beyond redemption, and there is a lot a business can do to turn it around if they are struggling.


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