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Responsible Business Attracts the Best People, Study Says

Employees in the U.K. see a clear connection between responsible business practice and positive impact on the bottom line, says a new study.

The report, “Responsibility: Driving Innovation, Inspiring Employees,” was sponsored by BUPA and carried out by Business in the Community in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development and the Future Work Institute. It found that responsible practice can help to attract, motivate and retain a talented and diverse workforce, that employees think such a workforce would be more creative and innovative, and that this would in turn improve competitiveness and profitability. However, only 45% of employees find the recruitment rhetoric about corporate values that helped attract them to their employer is actually implemented.

The report’s findings include:
  • Employees are convinced that a talented and diverse workforce enhances creativity and innovation and contributes to increased focus on customers, improving competitive edge

  • They want to be treated as individuals -- not categorized according to whatever ‘diversity’ group they fall into

  • They want to see the organization’s values practiced throughout the business -- from corporate social responsibility through HR to products and services
The report says that organizations seeking to translate responsible practice into improved bottom line results should make sure they put into practice the five key characteristics of a responsible employer identified by employees. These are:
  • Treating individuals fairly
  • Responding to the changing needs of individual employees over time
  • Providing good quality products or services
  • Listening to employees
  • Understanding the importance of values
Many employees considered that a responsible organization would be particularly good at having strong and inspiring senior management, but scored it low in their organization. Leadership which is visible and connected to the organization is crucial in influencing the extent to which it lives its values.

Val Gooding, chief executive, BUPA explains: “The marketplace is changing. If all other things are equal, we each have to ask what differentiates us as an organization, both to our customers and to potential employees. This research shows the close connection between responsible organizations, engaged, motivated and inspired employees and business success.”

The report goes on to show that attitudes to responsible business practice evolve as peoples’ careers develop. The financial package is the more important aspect in deciding on an employer, particularly for younger recruits, but once in employment, sharing the employer’s values becomes crucial to staying with the organization.

“The research confirms how critical the integration of responsible practices is, offering business the opportunity to leverage success through the way it attracts, retains and motivates staff,” said Julia Cleverdon, chief executive of Business in the Community. “In doing so, businesses can generate an innovative working environment, enhance employee motivation and increase their positive impact on all stakeholders.”

Duncan Brown, assistant director-general, CIPD, concludes: “The challenge for HR departments is to make sure that the voice of employees is heard loud and clear throughout the business.”

The report can be downloaded online.

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