The ethos of a company is highly valued by SME employees, according to a new report from employee benefits specialist Unum and independent researcher The Future Laboratory. Almost two thirds (64%) of SME employees believe that companies should make a positive contribution to society, surpassing the national figure of 61%.

The Future Workforce, examines the motivations and priorities of UK workers, to understand how the nation’s workforce will change over the next decade. Insights were drawn from a survey of more than 3,000 UK workers, as well as from interviews with a range of industry experts and business leaders.

This emphasis on a company’s ethical credentials comes in the wake of a movement towards greater awareness of global issues, which has led to demands for more transparency in how organisations do business and less tolerance of unethical corporate behaviour.

As a result, an ethical employer can be an important factor when it comes to deciding whether to join or stay with an organisation – with half of all UK workers (50%) saying they would be discouraged from working for an organisation with no interest in community or ethical goals. In addition, The Future Workforce report found that just under a third (30%) of UK workers believe that companies who are not participating in any civic or ethical contributions should be fined.

The Future Workforce report provides guidance to help UK businesses cater for this group of socially conscious workers:
1. Highlight your company’s social responsibility goals and purpose early in the recruitment process.
2. Demonstrate that employees are valued and cared for by implementing employee benefits that protect or support them, their families and wider communities.
3. Set company goals or targets to enhance the environmental and social impact of your business and its employees.
4. Reward employees for sustainable activities, either through personal or team benefits.
5. Enable connections and partnerships with other businesses in your local community to build a sense of belonging.
6. Build volunteering opportunities into your employee benefits scheme.

Peter O’Donnell, CEO of Unum said: “The Future Workforce report reveals the extent to which the movement towards a greater awareness of global issues has impacted the opinions and expectations of the nation’s workforce. Many UK workers are now actively looking for an employer with a social and environmental conscience – as well as wanting to be empowered to do good for themselves, their communities and the wider world.

“SME owners must consider how to attract and retain talent within this new landscape – be it through setting environmental and social company goals, rewarding employees for sustainable activities, or building volunteering opportunities into employee benefits schemes. We hope The Future Workforce will give SME owners food for thought, and that it will start a discussion around how to prepare for the workforce of tomorrow, today.”

For more information on the findings and how the employers can adapt to the changing needs of the future workforce, please find the full report here: unum.co.uk/future-workforce