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The CarbonNeutral Company

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Driving employee engagement through environmental sustainability

It’s corporate social responsibility focus week on Bdaily. Here, Rebecca Fay at The CarbonNeutral Company argues why CSR, specifically a company’s sustainability profile, is an increasingly important catalyst for employee recruitment and retention, giving businesses a boost in their quest for talent.

As Generation Y & Z begin to dominate the labour market, companies must work harder than ever to ensure that their CSR programmes support and drive employee and stakeholder engagement, as well as competitive advantage.

From CSR to ESG

CSR is a vital tool in the armoury of businesses, increasingly underpinning company culture and values. It has matured far beyond a ‘nice to have’ restricted to social and philanthropic activities, to encompass a far broader range of sustainable business practices that satiate the evolving needs and demands of stakeholders.

CSR is evolving into Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and has become about future proofing business by understanding success is about more than just profit.

Satiating the demands of Gen Y and Z

Today’s workforce is more socially and environmentally aware than ever. Pay has been superseded as a driver of employee engagement as consumers have developed a strong social conscience. With Generation Y and Z set to make up 50% of the workforce by 2020, businesses face an uphill battle to attract the best talent and achieve brand loyalty.

The Cone Millenial Cause report revealed 80% of 13-25 year olds want to work for a company that cares about its societal impact, refusing to work for an organisation that did not consider it, while The Journal of Organizational Behaviour (2012) suggested a positive correlation between a company’s green credentials and staff productivity.

Increased access to information means current and future employees are more inquisitive about CSR programmes, but in reality, whilst millenials are more conscious of societal and CSR issues, they are also more blinkered to companies’ efforts.

The 2012 Sustainability Leadership Report found that although more CSR actions were underway, awareness among recent graduates and investors had dropped. Building brand loyalty is increasingly difficult, and companies need to work harder than ever to make an impact with stakeholders.

It’s one issue attracting, another retaining Reputation is paramount to stand out in a crowded market place and promote brand loyalty.

Companies must adapt to match the changing attitudes of employees if they are to attract and retain the best candidates. The new strain of CSR delivers vital value and can be a powerful statement of intent, enhancing reputation and improving stakeholder engagement. Importantly, it can also save money by creating a workplace with loyal, long-term employees, fostering further loyalty in newer recruits and encouraging retention.

Through proactively demonstrating their social and environmental credentials, brands will be future-proofed and remain well placed to appeal to the new generation of workers.

Your competitors are doing it already

Carbon management demonstrates action and leadership. 96% of the FSTE 100 and 69% of the FTSE 350 reported their carbon emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) in 2012 and regulatory drivers for organisations to take carbon reporting seriously are increasing.

M&S was one of the first companies to quantify the benefits of its boardroom led CSR programme through its innovative Plan A, which saved the company £185m over five years.

If you talk the talk, you need to walk the walk

Having pledged to an environmental position businesses must commit to and deliver a comprehensive carbon management plan: a company’s reputation can be easily harmed by apathy. Promote action internally and to the rest of the corporate world, positioning the brand as a benchmark for stellar CSR activity. Sustainability is a differentiator in a competitive job market, which is able to attract and retain talent.

Communicate your success to reap the benefits

Today’s holistic CSR programmes are concerned with far more than philanthropy and offer tangible business advantages. Businesses must align themselves with the increasing environmental and social consciences of generations Y&Z to preserve their brand’s reputation and assume a competitive position in the quest for talent.

Championing CSR investment amongst existing and prospective employees can attract and retain brand ambassadors, improve loyalty both externally and internally, whilst safeguarding the future of the business. Firms acting to capitalise now will reap the rewards in the long term.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by The CarbonNeutral Company .

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