Better Together

How organizations can align sustainability efforts with employer brand in order to attract the right talent.
By Debbie Bolla
With 63 percent of full-time employees looking for new employment, according to recent research from talent solutions provider iCIMS, a company’s reputation is now more important than ever. The pressure to be seen as an employer of choice has increased organizational focus on employer brand, which is how a company is viewed by its workers and potential employees.

“Individuals want to work for organizations with a positive reputation and ethical c-suite leadership,” says Jill Schwieters, president of Cielo Healthcare.

CR Magazine’s 2015 Corporate Reputation Survey found that if unemployed, 86 percent of American females said they would not join a company with a bad reputation. These results indicate how important employer brand and ethics are for organizations. The survey, which was sponsored by Cielo, encompassed a poll of more than 1,000 employed and unemployed Americans in the effort to gain insights into how corporate responsibility, reputation, and transparency can impact job decisions.

“Today’s job seekers are sophisticated,” says Gerry Sullivan, SVP of sales, solutions, and marketing for talent solutions provider PeopleScout. “They follow and interact with companies they admire through social media platforms while searching and applying to jobs. Because of this, it is necessary for companies to establish their own brand to stand out from the competition. Companies with a strong employer brand often see up to two-and-a-half times more applicants per job opening. An employer brand is also key in retaining employees who personally identify with the brand of the company that they work for.”

One strategy that organizations leverage in order to get ahead is making their corporate responsibility initiatives a key part of their employer brand. Jan Becker, senior vice president of HR and corporate real estate at global software provider AutoDesk, says CR initiatives have the power to make employees feel part of something more important than themselves, which generates deeper feelings of trust.

“We’re very involved in a variety of sustainability initiatives that make us all proud,” she says. “For example, our sustain ability group often provides free design software to green technology companies, especially startups that are doing good things to support the environment.”

Additional research supports this: Nielsen reports 67 percent of employees prefer to work for a socially responsible company. And today’s talent often has a choice. “Top candidates have the ability to choose who they work with based on a variety of factors,” says Anthony Andre, regional leader of North America for talent communications and employer brand for talent acquisition provider Korn Ferry Futurestep. “Corporate reputation regarding commitment to the communities they serve is an important factor in that decision, and a significant contributor to individual motivation.”

With Millennials set to comprise more than 50 percent of the workforce in just four years, organizations need to respond to their needs as well. A recent study by PeopleScout found that 80 percent of Millennia Is want to be employed by a company that is known for being ethical and socially aware.

“Millennials, who are our future leaders, want to work for an organization that cares about what they care about,” says Kim Pope, executive vice president of recruitment solutions for human capital solutions provider WilsonHCG. “They want to know they are making an impact. If their personal beliefs and goals align with their organization, it encourages engagement and long-term growth at the company.”

Where should companies begin? Both Sullivan and Pope recommend aligning CR programs to the mission and culture of the organization. By doing this, employees and candidates will have an authentic view of company values. Once established, Pope says there are several ways for organizations to incorporate CR in their employer brand.

Some best practices include:

• Diversity resource groups;

• Paid volunteer days;

• Veteran recruitment programs; and

• Donation matching

“By aligning corporate responsibility initiatives to DNA and culture, these organizations are integrating CR into their employer brand and attracting like-minded candidates,” she explains.

How should an organization communicate its efforts? Sullivan recommends using social media channels, blogs, and the company website. “The careers page is a great place to showcase photos and articles that describe your CR program and reflect your company values, which in turn support your employer brand,” he says.

Leading organizations should consider doing thisand more. “Communicating CR efforts through your employment brand is half the battle,” says Pope. “Candidates need to see these initiatives in action and trust that the company is following through.”

Pope recommends getting current employees involved as brand ambassadors. “Encourage employees to use a company-specific hashtag on photos for social media while participating in a CR activity,” she advises. “This allows candidates to get a transparent and honest look at these programs through the eyes of current employees.”

And applying for and touting award wins doesn’t hurt either. “Many Fortune 500 organizations with strong CR programs communicate their efforts via awards like the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World or Diversitylnc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity,” says Pope.

CR efforts also aid in alignment with candidates and cultural fit. “When these CR initiatives are communicated through the employer brand, we see that like-minded talent is attracted to that company,” says Sullivan. “Not only are applicant rates higher, the right people are applying.”

It’s truly a win-win for all. “Employees want to feel connected to their organization and know that they are making an impact. One of the ways they can find that connection is through corporate responsibility efforts,” says Pope. “If they see that a potential employer truly cares about a social issue, charity, or sustainability initiative, they can build a deeper connection with their employer and want to help the company achieve their goals.”



Posted October 12, 2016 in Sustainability