Gaskin: Sustainable workplaces attract top-tier talent – Boston Herald

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In a market with historically low unemployment rates, attracting and retaining digitally savvy new hires with leadership potential is challenging. A Paychex study highlights these difficulties, while a survey from Allegis Group reveals that 49% of HR decision-makers worry about attracting and retaining Millennials and Gen Z employees. Additionally, 62% are concerned that failing to do so could negatively impact their business.
In today’s competitive market, businesses increasingly recognize that sustainability is key to attracting and retaining top talent. A recent study by Cone Communications found that 78% of Millennials would choose a company committed to social and environmental responsibility. With the average American worker spending over 500 hours a year commuting, the concept of the sustainable workplace — which prioritizes environmental friendliness, social responsibility, and employee well-being — has gained traction.
Companies like Akamai Technologies, for instance, offer generous subsidies for public transportation and provide on-site bike storage and shower facilities. NRG Energy incorporates biophilic design elements (think plants!) into their workspaces, which studies show can boost creativity and productivity. Liberty Mutual encourages employees to participate in volunteer opportunities related to environmental causes, fostering a sense of community and purpose. This allows employees to contribute to causes they believe in while strengthening their bond with the company.
Here’s how companies can build more sustainable workplaces and become more competitive in today’s labor market:
Many employees, especially younger generations, prioritize environmental and social responsibility. They seek employers whose values align with their own, making sustainability a significant factor in their employment decisions.
Companies known for their sustainability efforts often enjoy a better public image. This reputation attracts employees who are proud to be associated with a responsible and forward-thinking employer.
Sustainable practices often lead to healthier workplaces. This includes better air quality, natural lighting, and ergonomic designs, which contribute to the overall well-being of employees, reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity.
Sustainability is associated with long-term thinking and stability. Employees are drawn to companies that demonstrate resilience and foresight, providing them with a sense of job security and career longevity.
Sustainable companies are often seen as innovative and leaders in their industry. Top talent is attracted to such environments where they can work on cutting-edge projects and be part of a pioneering team.
Sustainable workplaces frequently offer unique benefits and perks that align with a green lifestyle, such as public transportation subsidies, biking facilities, healthy food options, and wellness programs.
A commitment to sustainability can boost employee morale and engagement. When employees feel their work contributes to a greater good, they are more likely to be motivated, satisfied, and loyal to the company.
Sustainable workplaces often foster a sense of community and collaboration among employees. This can be through team-building activities, volunteer opportunities, and initiatives that encourage collective effort towards sustainability goals.
There is a growing recognition that sustainable businesses often perform better financially in the long run. Prospective employees are aware that working for such companies can offer more stable and potentially rewarding career prospects.
Companies committed to sustainability are usually ahead in compliance with environmental regulations, which reduces the risk of legal issues and potential fines. This proactive approach can be appealing to top talent seeking stability and ethical practices.
To attract top talent through sustainability, companies can implement various practices such as:
Reducing carbon footprint through energy-efficient operations.
Implementing recycling programs and reducing waste.
Offering flexible working arrangements to reduce commuting.
Using sustainable materials and promoting a green supply chain.
Engaging in corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
Sustainable workplaces contribute positively to the environment and society but also create a compelling proposition for top talent. By integrating sustainability into their core operations and culture, companies can attract and retain the best employees, driving long-term success and innovation.
Ed Gaskin is Executive Director of Greater Grove Hall Main Streets.  Sukia Akiba is an environmentalist and sustainable real estate developer 
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