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No longer can you attract and retain the best talent with money alone.

The best of the workforce cares increasingly about priorities above and beyond traditional salaries and benefits packages. More than ever, organizational responsibility matters.

Your team members (and your best prospects) want to see how your company makes the world a better place—whether through social actions, sustainability initiatives, or other programs with a conscience.

It’s not just your employees and prospects who require an ethos in action: customers and stakeholders also want to see what you’re doing to better the world.

In this reality, companies must prioritize new and innovative incentives—not only because they’re “the right thing to do,” but because they are fast becoming necessary to remaining competitive in the job market.

Fortunately, these programs often really are the right thing to do: they make the world a better place while also attracting (and retaining) the best talent.

Here are five things your company can do to walk the walk when it comes to establishing and improving organizational responsibility.

1. Offer authentic perks.

Here’s a big surprise: when you prioritize employee happiness and long-term fulfillment, you empower your staff to take on meaningful challenges, advocate for what your company accomplishes, and find greater engagement within the organization.

Yet many companies focus on more inauthentic but “cool” perks, like snacks in the break room, scheduled fun activities during the day, and free schwag. These benefits are nice enough, but they are unlikely to move the needle on an employee’s job satisfaction.

Authentic benefits flip this script. They provide enduring, genuine impacts for your team members—benefits that mean something deeper to them. These can augment a traditional benefits package, or your company can simply get involved in meaningful initiatives. Either way, addressing social inequities, implementing responsible and sustainable practices, and addressing a business’s role in the scope of climate change are all key issues in the eyes of prospective employees.

2. Rethink core benefits, too.

Getting authentic with your traditional benefits doesn’t have to mean tacking on additional programs. Companies can address issues that matter to employees (and prospective employees) within the existing benefit structure.

Of course, socially and environmentally minded benefits are not meant to supplant traditional ones—you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who would be alright giving up healthcare or bonuses—but you can shape them to complement or improve upon your current benefit program.

For example, a company could convert retirement accounts to ESG-centric portfolios, or calculate and neutralize the carbon footprint of its existing portfolio. It could integrate more remote-work flexibility and offer assistance with public transit costs. If a company has already implemented a carbon-neutral program to knock out its footprint, it could extend the program to provide bespoke personal carbon neutrality as an employee benefit.

These kinds of benefits matter: for example, a recent study from Unily found that 83% of workers report that their employers are not doing enough to address climate change, and nearly two-thirds (65%) state that they are more likely to work for a company with strong environmental policies.

Often, these are relatively low-cost methods that augment an attractive employee hiring and retention program.

3. Account for employee perception

Employees pay attention to how their companies operate. They know how to tell the difference between the company line and the company action, especially when it comes to issues they care about. (And they care a great deal about social and environmental issues.)

In other words: your efforts matter, and how your employees perceive your efforts matters just as much. It matters to their decisions to take jobs (and leave them), and it matters to your organization’s reputation: employee voice is three times more credible than the CEO’s when it comes to talking about working conditions in a company.

If you take responsibility seriously, your own employees’ word of mouth can help your company’s reputation more than any marketing strategy.

Here are some convincing statistics from Glassdoor that emphasize the need for demonstrating organizational responsibility to your teams:

  • 50% of candidates say they wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation, even for a pay increase.
  • 92% of people would consider changing jobs if offered a role with a company with an excellent corporate reputation.
  • A strong employer brand can reduce the cost per hire by as much as 50%.
  • A negative reputation can cost a company as much as 10% more per hire.
  • 86% of women and 67% of men in the United States wouldn’t join a company with a bad reputation.

How’s that for motivation? Prioritizing commitments with thought-out, credible impacts will bolster the relationship between employees and the organization, which will in turn improve your company’s public perception, hiring ability, and overall retention.

4. Get clear with your mission (and stay true to it)

Customers recognize when an organization’s purpose is authentic, and when it is simply a marketing ploy: recent survey data, according to Stackla, shows 90% of customers report authenticity as an important factor in deciding which brands they like and support.

This holds true for your employees, too. Implementing company-wide commitments to environmental or social issues—and ensuring you do so with purpose and clear intentions—will help your employees feel like they are included in that authentic, purposeful charge, in and out of the workplace.

As a completely arbitrary case study, let’s take a look at a bold young company hyper-focused on knocking out carbon. To help our partners meet their sustainability goals, we here at Climate Vault buy carbon allowances from the cap-and-trade system and pull those permits from the market, preventing anyone else from emitting that carbon.

We’re all-in on our values: our commitment to carbon neutrality shapes the way we market ourselves, how we continue to develop our own employee benefits, and the way we conduct business. We’re all-in, and we aim to act with purpose and clarity in all our commitments.

5. Prioritize employee participation.

So far, the theme here has been, essentially: Be real. The final way to walk the walk of corporate responsibility is to enable your team members to be real, too. Give them access to your programs; ask their opinions; prioritize their participation in your efforts, whatever directions those take.

After all, including them comes at little cost and only reaffirms your commitment to them and their values. If your company plans on making a charitable donation, consider affording your team a say on where it should go. If people within the company have ideas for ways that the whole org can be more sustainable, listen and (when feasible) implement those ideas. This is an affordable action, and it is also high-impact. It demonstrates your responsibility not only to a cause, but to your employees, too.

Carbon reduction is attainable for companies in any industry, of any size. Achieving it demonstrates your commitment to the environment and to your team’s values. Want to find out more about locking up carbon in one easy go? Get in touch with the Climate Vault team to calculate your carbon footprint and leverage emission allowances to future-proof your business, make lasting environmental impacts, and keep team members engaged with your cause.