Oct 16, 2018 | written by:

People are very much aware of the global threats facing our planet and they expect companies to act responsible, ideally minimizing the impact their company has on the environment and to ‘give something back’. As part of the "war for talent", companies need to refocus and offer more than just an attractive salary package, flexible working hours and good career opportunities to have long-lasting, engaging and thus more productive employees. As you consider your corporate brand, it is all the more important to not only think about your products and services but also about how prospective and current employees view your organization. By incorporating a sustainability strategy in a holistic, triple-bottom-line approach that equally considers environment, society and economics will help improve your employer brand and staff retention as a whole.

Why sustainability?

While there are also other current topics of discussion, such as gender equality and a healthy work-life balance, surveys have shown globally that job seekers are more and more looking beyond profit and seeking purpose. Although this might not always seem as a major factor yet, the awareness of environmental and societal issues linked to companies has already begun to have an effect on the employer preferences of job seekers, particularly for high-performing millennials. With a commitment to sustainability, companies demonstrate that they face up to their responsibilities. As a result they ideally strengthen their internal corporate values and it helps them to stand out from their competitors. A distinctive corporate culture that is based on a value-oriented foundation can provide decisive advantages in terms of employer attractiveness and employee loyalty. It is no big news that employees tend to work better when they identify with the company's core values, goals and actions. By incorporating sustainability as a key part of the company’s vision and mission, employees will respond through greater productivity and engagement. This ultimately will determine the success of the company in the long run.

Actively involve your employees

Nowadays, effective employer branding takes place approximately 70% internally in order to have a more strategic approach with a long-lasting output, instead of focusing on punctuated advertising and marketing campaigns that tend to disregard the corporate culture as a whole. To be able to implement a well-integrated sustainability strategy in your company, it is all the more important to make it accessible and engaging. The ultimate goal should be to involve employees as much as possible in your’ activities in order to turn them into authentic brand ambassadors. Relevant topics and activities that one wishes to become active in, should thus be identified in advance and should be developed in collaboration with employees. This is the only way to implement an employer brand strategy that is truly authentic and at the same time promotes employee’s identification with the company. By this means, you can strengthen your entire corporate image in a transparent manner, ultimately convincing potential applicants and engage your internal team.

The right story makes the difference

"Your employer branding is not what you tell them it is, it's what they tell you it is.“ The story of your sustainability initiative matters, simply because your cause matters. This is why it is important to spread the word in a unique way. And the more personal it gets, the better! The key to good employer branding is to cultivate and nurture a trustful, engaging relationship with your employees and to consider them as active co-participants in the process. In order to not lose credibility by over-communicating and to still be able to convincingly transport your corporate messages, commitment from the inside out is needed. The more your employees feel deeply connected to the company's activities and have an active say in the matter, the more likely they will act as authentic ambassadors and be an inspirational source for creative storytelling and emotions.

Treedom - The right partner for the right cause

Treedom has worked with several clients to successfully promote employer branding and engagement campaigns as part of an innovative sustainability initiative. For instance, we have worked with the Swedish multinational clothing-retail company H&M when they launched their "Conscious" collection already back in 2014 with the objective to involve 8.000 employees in ten European countries.

For the campaign, Treedom has created the so called „Treebox“ as a special Christmas present to gift to the employees. Inside the box was a coupon code for planting a real tree in Malawi, Kenya and Senegal and a small Christmas tree entirely made of recycled paper that could be set up and personally decorated. In order to foster further engagement, the campaign was accompanied by a competition: employees had to set up the Christmas tree, decorate and photograph it, to then upload it to the company’s internal network. Whoever had the best picture won a trip to the H&M forest and had the chance to personally meet the small farmers and their communities, who plant the trees. This experience was subsequently shared within the H&M community and received great response. Due to the high level of engagement, the campaign was again repeated the following year. In total, over 15.000 trees have been planted and employees still continue to receive regular updates about their tree and the project on site. By this means, we were able to create a long-term commitment on the basis of a value-based relationship. Almost four years later, employees who participated in the activity, continue to give positive feedback and keep confirming the success of the campaign due to its high emotional value. Chiara Russo, CSR-Manager at H&M also testifies the effectiveness of the campaign: „Thanks to the trees we gifted for Christmas, many employees told me that they feel proud to be part of the H&M family“.

Sustainability activities and a value-drive strategy which is well integrated in the company culture, have the potential to not only strengthen an employer brand but to also create credibility and trust among employees by actively engaging them. After all, both existing and prospective employees would want to work for a company that cares for our planet. #LetsGreenThePlanet

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