Tackling talent scarcity through ESG commitments

To succeed in a difficult talent market, companies need to rethink their commitments to the environment, society and their own people in order to resonate more strongly with prospective and current employees


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The battle for talent is being waged by organisations of all sizes across the UK and beyond. Businesses need to stand out; to connect with their workforces and not only retain the talent they have, but to ensure prospective employees want to join their organisations.

Those companies that commit to their ESG strategies and communicate that to employees will be the ones that succeed.

Research by ManpowerGroup, parent company of Talent Solutions, found that two-thirds of employees want to help improve society through their work. Half would change jobs to work for an employer that benefits their wellbeing. Most importantly, people want to find an employer that is aligned to their values.

The stronger the commitments an employer makes to improve the environment, society and its governance, otherwise known as ESG, the more likely it is to attract the best talent, according to the McKinsey Quarterly. ManpowerGroup has increased its commitment to ESG as well, a positioning that will support its own employees, as well as its clients, candidates and associates.

Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup’s chairman and CEO, says, “Our purpose is clear: we believe meaningful, sustainable employment has the power to change the world.” As part of this objective, ManpowerGroup has worked with over 8,000 young people in 26 European countries to provide mentoring and upskilling. Similarly, it has committed to seeing women make up at least 50% of leadership roles by 2025.

Organisations like Talent Solutions helping clients to support women throughout their careers might just be the change that is needed to ensure female talent isn’t lost. Women are 51% less optimistic about their career prospects than before the pandemic, says Deloitte. And ManpowerGroup found that 57% of women plan to leave their current job within two years. That, combined with the data around hybrid working – namely that ManpowerGroup has found that 35% of employees want full flexibility about when and where they work – points to a crucial business risk in the battle for talent. Women aren’t satisfied with their current roles, working arrangements and company fit. Losing experienced female talent will not only be a blow to diversity and equality but will further exacerbate the ongoing scarcity of talent already worrying business leaders.

A holistic talent strategy, though, goes beyond gender equality. Racial diversity is not only a proven benefit to businesses, but will help ease the talent crunch, too. Part of the ManpowerGroup that supports clients with end-to-end workforce strategies, Talent Solutions, focuses on inclusivity within the workplace, a strategy that informs its objectives for clients as well.

Our purpose is clear: we believe meaningful, sustainable employment has the power to change the world

The results are visible in practice. In the UK, Talent Solutions is working with defence company QinetiQ on building a talent pipeline for systems engineers and other critical lines. Talent Solutions reviewed Qinetiq’s long-term objectives to create a bespoke classroom and on-the-job ‘train-to-fit’ programme in partnership with the client. Designed around the candidates’ specific needs and QinetiQ’s business objectives, they took a less conventional hiring approach, building a diverse talent pool of individuals with transferable skills and upskilling them. At the end of the training period all candidates were offered roles by QinetiQ.

This model can help companies tackle skills shortages in a way that also does good for society.

“We stand up for the greater good and collective benefit, to do all we can to be anti-racist, as well as pro-diversity, pro-equity and pro-inclusion, so that companies can continue to grow and succeed by accessing the skilled talent they need and so that everyone can be part of future growth and prosperity,” says Jonas Prising, chairman & CEO of ManpowerGroup in the recent ‘Working to Change the World’ report.

Building a stronger employer proposition relies on taking a more comprehensive approach to ESG. ManpowerGroup is the only company in its industry that has set ambitious goals to tackle climate change, including reducing carbon emissions across the board. The company has already cut global emissions by 37% over its 2018 baseline and is well on its way to reaching net zero.

But it’s not just about the supply chain or emissions, HR strategy makes an impact on the environment too. Sustainable working practices can align with employee desires for hybrid or flexible working patterns. Similarly, reskilling or retraining staff can also build stronger talent pools in low-carbon and sustainable job roles.

Gartner noted that 58% of all employees will need new skills to get their jobs done in future. While companies have thus far relied on benefits and salary bumps to attract and retain talent, skills development may become the new frontier in talent management.
Skills development can also allow for a broader range of educational backgrounds, neurodiverse individuals and non-traditional talent pools to emerge, all contributing to a company’s ability to compete in a talent-scarce landscape.

And in a world in which 60% of companies are linking their ESG goals to their corporate purpose, HR can’t afford to lose ground. Prising says, “Our ‘Working to Change the World’ plan is about collectively caring for people and planet with new awareness and urgency. Advancing towards net zero by measuring and reducing our climate impact (and offsetting only when we must) while accelerating social justice to address inequities will drive job creation and demand for new skills and will progress opportunities for all.”

For employers to make a positive impact for their communities and the environment into the future, they must be run ethically and have a strong sense of their governance strategies and accountabilities. Seventy percent of employees say having leaders they can trust and follow is important for them. Not only does this require companies to set out honest governance strategies, but employees also want to see organisations taking a stand for positive change. They want to see their employers advocating for racial equity or voting rights or action on climate change. Doing so will only help businesses build stronger connections with their purpose-driven workforces.

ManpowerGroup has led by example with regards to governance. Not only was it named the ‘World’s Most Ethical Company’ by Ethisphere for the 11th year, but it has a global human rights policy in place that reinforces its ethical recruitment and HR practices.
Being an attractive company takes more than a strong bottom line. Employees want an employer that sees beyond the numbers. Talent Solutions has led the HR industry on the issues that matter. But it takes a broader commitment from companies across the UK to create a positive social impact and deliver sustainable employment with the power to change the world.

Find out more about how Talent Solutions can support your organisation, at talentsolutions.manpowergroup.co.uk


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