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Going green to enhance your employment branding efforts

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Going green to enhance your employment branding effortsSo, you think creating an employment brand will help your organization attract, retain and repel employees – you are right on! Companies large and small are seeing a significant increase in the ROI of recruitment and retention programs by creating an employment brand. This one human resources initiative can be a significant differentiator for companies who are looking to attract and retain top talent and repel employees who just won’t fit in the first place.

We know the statistics on the boomer exodus and we have read umpteen articles on the quirky yet powerful Gen Y population. Now we are tasked with creating an employment brand that will appeal to all. While Kermit the Frog may have coined the phase “it aint easy being green”, companies across the globe are leveraging and positioning “green” to make green – as in money. Corporate giants like Honda, Starbucks, Goldman Sachs and GE are using green as the next poster child to attract media attention and boost recruitment and retention efforts.

If you don’t think “going green” is making headlines, think again. Al Gore won an Oscar for “An Inconvenient Truth”. Live Earth concerts have swept the globe. So we’re hearing a lot about it, but what does “going green” even mean? Most are in agreement that going green means lessening a company’s environmental footprint.

We all expect companies like Whole Foods, Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Timberland to be leading the green brigade. They have a market presence that appeals to “tree huggers” and environmentalists. We also assume that their consumer brand is congruent with their employment brand. What they are saying in their external marketing should match their internal marketing.  So, let’s take a look:

Timberland:
Our mission is to equip people to make a difference in their world. We do this by creating outstanding products and by trying to make a difference in the communities where we live and work.

Places like this are usually for talking about the year some company was founded, how many people it employs, and why the particular kind of thing it makes is without a doubt the best in the universe.

If you’re looking for history, check out our timeline. If you want to know what Timberland is about, keep reading.

We’re a big company made up of a lot of small parts and incredibly talented people. We make boots, shoes, clothes and gear that are comfortable enough to wear all day and rugged enough for all year. We don’t rest on our accomplishments. If we did, we’d only have ever made one waterproof leather boot.

Our place in this world is bigger than the things we put in it. So we volunteer in our communities. Making new products goes hand in hand with making things better. That means reducing our carbon footprint and being as environmentally responsible as we can.
We love every minute we spend outdoors, and we work hard to create things that make that experience better in every way.

So far, so good…

Whole Foods:
Founded in 1980 as one small store in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market® is now the world’s leading retailer of natural and organic foods, with 196 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. To date Whole Foods Market remains uniquely mission driven: We’re highly selective about what we sell, dedicated to stringent Quality Standards, and committed to sustainable agriculture.

We believe in a virtuous circle entwining the food chain, human beings and Mother Earth: each is reliant upon the others through a beautiful and delicate symbiosis.

Whole People
We recruit the best people we can to become part of our team. We empower them to make their own decisions, creating a respectful workplace where people are treated fairly and are highly motivated to succeed. We look for people who are passionate about food. Our team members are also well-rounded human beings. They play a critical role in helping build the store into a profitable and beneficial part of its community.

Whole Planet
We believe companies, like individuals, must assume their share of responsibility as tenants of Planet Earth. On a global basis we actively support organic farming — the best method for promoting sustainable agriculture and protecting the environment and the farm workers. On a local basis, we are actively involved in our communities by supporting food banks, sponsoring neighborhood events, compensating our team members for community service work, and contributing at least five percent of total net profits to not-for-profit organizations.

In the context of employment branding, green information such as this, positioned appropriately on the company website, or in a recruitment video, can be a significant differentiator for a company that’s interested in attracting the “younger generation”.
Yet many companies who have done an outstanding job of going green have yet to leverage it on their company career site. Vancouver City Savings Credit Union was the first North American-based financial institution to be carbon neutral. Being carbon neutral is a significant energy and “green saving” — as in money. It is published that their goal, which the Vancity Group, including Citizens Bank of Canada, voluntarily set in 2006 for 2010, was achieved early through a rigorous emissions reduction program focusing on energy use, staff travel, paper consumption and waste. Over the last 10 years, Vancity cut its energy use by 50 per cent, incidents of staff commuting to work by driving alone by 13 per cent, and its paper consumption by 30 per cent saving well over $2 million in energy costs alone. This is GREAT! I would be very attracted to be a part of this organization. So why are they not leveraging this?

Studies have shown that many Gen Y and college grads are concerned, or at least conscious, about how their behavior impacts the environment. What they consume, how it’s packaged, what they drive and where they live are conscious choices that are made every day. As you can imagine, whom they work for also plays into these decisions.
If you really want to attract this population or portion of the workforce, it may be time to play an old Muppets rerun and think about our friend Kermit the Frog. Positioning your company as “going green” can and will enhance your recruitment efforts. But remember the flip side; it can also repel.

Companies that do not give consideration to being green, or just provide “green washing” lip service may be passed over by potential candidates that do not wish to be associated with that organization. We see it every day; employees are searching for an authentic work experience where their personal values are in alignment with the organizational values. This also applies to retention. Organizations that are not implementing environmental policies or changing the way they are doing business may lose current employees to some other company that might be offering incentives like subsidies for employees buying hybrid cars, on-site farmers’ markets, use of green fuels and solar power – just some of the latest trends in going green.

It all comes down to sustainability. Companies must integrate into the environment, not vise versa to be successful in the ability to attract, retain and repel candidates in order to increase the ROI of recruitment and retention efforts.

Related to employment branding
•    Being an employer of choice
•    Employee retention programs
•    Focus groups: 7 steps to defining your unique employment brand

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