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Sustainability: How ESG Development Goals Can Attract & Retain Talent

Sustainability is essential in locking in the best talent for your workforce. But how does it work exactly?

In a recent Singapore survey by international real estate experts JLL, more than half of the respondents indicated that social and environmental responsibility was a key determining factor when choosing an employer. This can also be interpreted as environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals.

In addition, these Singaporean employees were keener to work for an organisation that creates opportunities for the workforce to be part of its sustainability efforts.

Clearly, sustainability has emerged as a significant driver in talent attraction and retention. Globally, the narrative is similar. In the UK for instance, 67% of Gen Z employees found such developmental goals important when deciding on the company to work for.

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It is good to familiarise yourself with the concept to understand how sustainability can help you in your talent management strategy.

What are sustainable development goals?

According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (Sustainable Development), there are 17 sustainable development goals:

  1. End poverty everywhere
  2. End hunger and achieve food security globally
  3. Ensure good health and well-being
  4. Promote quality education
  5. Achieve gender equality
  6. Provide clean water and sanitation
  7. Create access to affordable and clean energy
  8. Promote inclusive, decent work and sustainable economic growth
  9. Build resilient industries and infrastructure by fostering innovation
  10. Reduce inequalities
  11. Create inclusive, sustainable cities and communities
  12. Ensure responsible consumption and production
  13. Combat climate change
  14. Protect life below water
  15. Protect life on land
  16. Promote peace, justice and strong institutions
  17. Strengthen partnerships for the goals

But what do these mean for talent attraction and retention? Social and environmental sustainability development goals, as statistics above have proven, can have a significant impact on the talent you attract and the extent you can retain them.

How sustainability practices can benefit your workforce?

1. Enhance employee loyalty and retention

As it stands, the top employers — measured by employee satisfaction and talent attractiveness — report much higher ESG scores, according to a study by global consultancy firm Mercer.

The same report revealed that by 2029, millennials and Gen Z will make up 72% of the global workforce. This will significantly drive the narrative towards sustainability and ESG development goals as these two groups place higher importance on such attributes than their predecessors.

2. Create a more diverse workforce

Sustainability goals allow you to address global problems like gender inequality, illiteracy, ageism and others that — when solved — can help create an inclusive society. Being at the forefront of these challenges reflects your commitment to inclusivity, which trickles down to your workforce strategy.

You will be able to attract a diverse group of talents, which McKinsey & Company reported, can help your organisation outperform your competitors by 33%.

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How to attract & retain talent with sustainability goals?

Introducing changes to workplace policies and office operations, for instance, are some ways to commit to the many sustainable development goals. Here are some examples:

1. Opting for greener offices

The Singapore Green Plan 2030 is one way the state is encouraging companies to work towards their ESG goals. The refreshed standards under the Green Mark 2021 scheme now require companies undergoing retrofitting of their buildings to meet higher standards to receive their green certification.

Keppel Land’s newly retrofitted Keppel Bay Tower, for instance, is Singapore’s first Green Mark Platinum (Zero Energy) commercial building, a key step towards appealing to more environmentally conscious employees.

This includes satisfying other sustainability outcomes, which include creating healthier environments for occupants.

2. Reducing carbon footprint

Reducing your carbon footprint is one way to meet your environmental sustainability development goals. For employees, witnessing the organisation’s consistent efforts in decreasing carbon footprint assures them that the company is putting its best foot forward when it comes to sustainability.

Take Singapore-based slow fashion brand OliveAnkara, for instance. While quality and novelty are at its core, it also recycles fabric scraps to create earrings and scrunchies.

Reporting statistics year on year and the success of projects implemented is also another way of showing your commitment to the environment. Even better, involving your employees in these projects will keep them motivated.

Play your part responsibly

Committing yourself to sustainability must come with the main purpose of serving the society and environment. Putting in place a strategy just to attract the best talent and not paying consistent attention to them is counterproductive.

Play your part, and results will come!

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