In the War for Talent, Good Companies Finish First

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In the war for talent, good companies finish first – that is the primary finding of a 2007 survey conducted by The Good Search, a retained search practice that specializes in recruiting for companies that attempt to do a better job treating their employees, their investors, their communities, and their planet well. Moreover, the survey findings indicate that companies can acquire a competitive advantage by embracing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). While nearly everyone polled indicated they’d rather work at a good company, only a third felt strongly that they were currently working at such a company. The survey findings suggest there is a strong business case to be made for leveraging goodness to attract and retain talent. Many companies including Starbucks define their respective goodness in their Corporate Social Responsibility policies and leverage CSR to recruit star executives and baristas. Others, such as Google, have stated altruistic philosophies as simple and idealistic as “do no evil” and seek candidates who’ve made it a practice to “give back”. And others simply offer a more humane, family-friendly work environment.

What follows are the 2007 results of a survey of 188 respondents examining the potential benefits of leveraging corporate social responsibility and related altruistic policies in both recruiting and retaining talent. Nearly half of the respondents had 10-to-20 years of work experience. 15% were VP level and higher, 30% were Directors, 30% Managers, and 20% were Individual Contributors. Nearly half of the respondents were in their 30’s. (15% were 20-to-30 years old, 49% were 31-to-40 years old, 25% were 41-to-50 years old, and 10% were 51-to-60 years old, and 1% was 61-to-70 years old.) Three-quarters of the respondents were male and a quarter female.

Overwhelmingly, candidates prefer good companies

Nearly everyone polled would rather work at a successful company that also aspires to be good (a total of 96% consisting of 64% who “Strongly Agree” and 32% who “Somewhat Agree”) 92% say they would be more inclined to trust a “good” employer and that they would feel better about themselves if they were working at a “good” company. 90% felt they would be happier working at a good company.

But only one-third works at a good company

Only 36% felt strongly that they currently work at a “good company” with stated Corporate Social Responsibility practices. Moreover, 9% felt they worked at bad companies with questionable ethics.

Candidates take corporate goodness personally

91% believe working for a "good" company serves as an extension of their personal branding as a good, ethical person. 68% feel it would be detrimental to their careers to have a bad company their resumes, and conversely, feel it would be beneficial to their careers to have a good company on their resumes. More than half (57%) believe that working at a "bad" company raises questions about whether they’re a "bad" person.

Defining Goodness

When we asked which "good" qualities" are important in an employer, what was most important had the most direct bearing on their lives:

Positive Work Environment (92% ), Family Friendly Benefits (73%), Profit-Sharing (67%), Superior Wages (59%), Superior Benefits (58%) and Wage Fairness (44%). Still, more than half stated diversity was important (53%) and well over a third felt accessibility was important (38%). Four-in-ten employees want to work for a company that is environmentally responsible (44%), that has stated Corporate Social Responsibility policies (38%), that makes socially responsible products (37%), and that conducts Ethical Sourcing and Supply Chain (35%). A third of those surveyed prefers employers that invest in Philanthropy (30%), and a quarter prefers employers that encourage Volunteerism (26%). Positive Labor/ Union Relations are important to only one-in-ten respondents.

The findings of our survey suggest that corporations take the following steps to improve their ability to attract and retain the leadership and workers they need.

  • Embrace CSR as a way to attract talent.

    Corporations are already experiencing significant shortages of talent with the right education and experience. But now, on top of that, two very important trend lines are crossing this year: available jobs and available workers. Beginning in 2006 and continuing throughout this decade, demand for talent will outstrip availability. There simply won’t be enough bodies to go around, never might the skill set. Demographic forces, including the aging population and younger workers’ shifting expectations for “work,” are dramatically reshaping the workforce. Increasingly, world class companies are discovering in order to be great, they have to be good. The neat thing is this trend might help change the world. In fact, 94% of the survey respondents believe rewarding "good" companies with the best talent is a great way to inspire other companies to do the right thing.

  • Embrace CSR as a way to retain talent.

    Only 1-in-5 of your employees is not open to considering pportunities. Our survey found that two-thirds of passive candidates are relatively active. Of those polled, 62% considered themselves passive candidates. Interestingly, one-third of the passives seeks employment monthly, one-third seeks employment yearly, and a third considers opportunities every couple of years. 28% of there respondents were actively engaged in seeking employment.

  • If your company has stated CSR policies, make sure you’re walking the walk.

    Nearly one in five respondents felt they worked at a company that had stated corporate social responsibility practices, but did not follow them. And if you don’t have CSR policies and if you are having trouble finding the people you need, you might want to check how potential candidates perceive your company. Only 11% of the respondents say they would work for a company with questionable ethics if the salary and benefit package was beneficial to the candidate or to the candidate’s family. Also, offering a more enticing role won’t make your company more competitive either: only 11% would work for a company with questionable ethics/business practices if it gave them a better opportunity (better title, training, more exposure to senior management, more responsibility, etc.) If your company is viewed as being unethical or having questionable ethics, simply throwing more money at candidates won’t make your company more competitive in the talent marketplace.

    Via: (The Good Search)

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