ESG: A lever to attract and retain talent in Singapore

Companies with a strong Environment and Social Governance (ESG) reputation will have an edge in attracting talent, especially the fresh and young.

January 11, 2022

Sustainability is an upcoming lever for talent attraction and retention. This finding is inferred from JLL’s recent survey of 200 employees in Singapore, which results showed that more than one in two respondents would consider a socially and environmentally responsible company as a future employer between two equal offers.

Further reinforcing this trend, two-in-three respondents were found keen to work for sustainability leaders who actively involve employees in their efforts towards sustainability. These inclinations are significantly higher, with seven to eight out of ten, for respondents in the younger age group of 21 to 30. These signs indicate that companies with a strong ESG reputation will have an edge in attracting talent, especially the new entrants.

Figure 1: Talent favour organisations with a sustainability agenda

Source: Sustainable Real Estate: An employee perspective, Singapore Insights Summary, JLL Research, September 2021

How can companies leverage sustainability to attract and retain talent? Here are some suggestions formulated from the results of the same survey.

1. Locate offices in green buildings

Workers view office buildings as instrumental in reducing carbon emissions. Nearly seven in ten respondents believe that office buildings can be highly impactful in reducing carbon emissions, and two in three prefer to work in buildings that contribute to reducing carbon emissions.

According to a recent JLL research blog titled “Green Office Options Aplenty in Singapore”, close to 80% of the 69.7 million square feet of island-wide office space tracked by JLL has achieved Green Mark certification. More than half of this space has been awarded Platinum - the top-tier Green Mark rating, indicating their potential to achieve 30% more energy savings than their non-Green Mark counterparts.

Hence, choosing a Green Mark certified building to locate one’s office should not pose significant challenges to employers.

2. Create sustainable workplaces

Besides opting for office premises in a green-certified building, employers can go one step further to incorporate sustainability features into their respective workplaces. The top sustainability workplace features voted by our respondents are:

  1. Greeneries and outdoor spaces such as rooftop gardens
  2. Water recycling and treatment onsite
  3. Intelligent windows to personalise heat and light levels
  4. Furniture made from recycled materials
  5. Artificial intelligence for efficient energy consumption
3. Involve employees in corporate sustainability efforts

Despite more organisations pouring funds into sustainability goals in recent years, employees are often excluded from these initiatives. Our survey found that 76% of respondents in Singapore were not aware of their company’s carbon reduction commitments. About 60% indicated that their company does not involve staff in environmental and social activities.

Yet, one in two respondents would like to know about their company’s sustainability initiatives and be involved and contribute to related activities.

Being part of a company’s sustainability efforts can be a source of pride for individuals. Thus, companies should start looking at engaging employees in their sustainability goals. They can incorporate changes that directly impact the lives of employees and allow them to partake in the green cause. These changes will go a long way in helping to attract and retain talents.

Figure 2: Building Employee Engagement in Sustainability

Source: Sustainability in the built environment: An employee perspective, JLL Research, October 2021