How to Retain Your Purpose-Driven Team in a Competitive Market

12 October 2022 by Ruth Smith
blog author

Securing top talent is on the agenda for every forward-thinking company, as reputable businesses around the globe place utmost importance on sustainability and meeting at the intersection of Performance, Purpose and Profit.

While the sustainability market is currently experiencing unprecedented growth which is increasing demand for qualified professionals, Acre strives to recruit and support talent in the Sustainability and ESG space.

However, employee retention is as vital as the initial attraction process due to numerous corporates leaving their roles (dubbed The Great Resignation), signalling the war for talent which is currently prevalent across all industries as employers compete for top-notch candidates.

To align with climate change targets, drive business value and conduct work purposefully, sustainability should seep into every corner of an ethical company’s operations, rather than sit quietly in a silo, to influence how employees select jobs they wish to apply for. As a result, firms are upping their game to recruit the most talented workers, which is stirring up a competitive market – but they need to retain them too.

So how do we keep employees happy? Acre has looked at three core factors for retaining top talent to ensure clients do not lose skilled professionals who head towards competitors offering a brighter future.

1. The sky’s the limit with career progression opportunities

Organisations that invest money, time and opportunities (and not necessarily in that order) to enhance their employee’s experience are more likely to succeed in keeping them happy long term. It is more economical for employers to keep - rather than replace - their skilled workers, not only by providing an attractive package to entice them in the first instance, but with a focus on the long-term to build momentum for progression.

Employees are lured elsewhere not just by better pay (although according to Deloitte, pay is the top reason millennials and Gen z workers left their employers over the last two years), but because when it comes to choosing an organisation, good work/life balance coupled with learning and development opportunities are ranked as top priorities.

A company’s portfolio of robust ESG projects is also undoubtedly a key pull to generate buy-in from employees. According to a study by data and analytics firm Nielson, three quarters of millennials are eco-conscious and favour socially responsible brands, while a survey from Pew Research Center found millennials and the Generation Z cohort possess high levels of engagement regarding climate change. And they seek that engagement in the workplace too, with research showing 53 per cent of the UK workforce regard sustainability as an important factor when choosing a company to work for.

An ethical business that invests in training programmes and offers continued professional development (CPD) to support the upskilling of employees will make staff more curious about developing their expertise to enable better understanding of other departments in the business, rather than upping sticks for pastures new.

2. Wellbeing and culture

A company that can demonstrate having its employees’ best interests at heart is a company worth working for.

A firm’s ethical culture should be embedded in its DNA to give a strong indication of how it will operate. Employers who listen to the needs of their workers, implement necessary changes and support employee wellbeing will always be at the top of the leader board.

The last two years have had a major impact on wellbeing and employees are feeling more empowered to speak out if they feel their workplace isn’t supportive. Companies are increasingly mindful that workers need a break and appreciate that energy levels and motivation can plummet if staff don’t come up for air.

Ensuring a reasonable lunch break is taken can make all the difference in keeping levels of satisfaction up. This must come from the top however - if the employer is seen toiling all day without a break, employees will feel uncomfortable taking time away from their desk.

The simple act of asking how the workforce is managing is another way an employer can strike up genuine rapport with staff. An EY Belonging Barometer study surveyed 1,000 employed American adults which found 40 per cent were feeling physically and emotionally isolated in the workplace. It discovered employees wanted greater connection with those they work with and if a leader shows a duty of care, it reiterates that staff are valued.

Organisations that are serious about retention also need to consider staff who suffer with a health or other issue. Implementing health and wellbeing policies (not to mention bereavement and pet policies) can help reduce the obstacles that makes an employee consider heading to pastures new.

3. Flexible arrangements

Before Covid dug its dirty heels firmly into global soil, workforces around the world commuted without a second thought. Some employees paid a small fortune in travel costs, while others accepted the fact they would be stuck in daily traffic on the same stretch of road.

However, times have changed rapidly as the pandemic gave working life a complete overhaul as everyone, except keyworkers, were forced to WFH which opened a new door of flexibility. Most workers proved that they could conduct their work successfully from the safety of their own four walls, thanks to a corporate cocktail of Zoom and Teams and a shot of solidarity that everyone was in it together.

Blind, an anonymous polling site, conducted a survey which revealed 76 per cent of Apple employees (650 took part in the study) were dissatisfied with the company’s return-to-office plans, with 56 per cent going as far as saying they’d even considered resigning over it.

Employees have different personalities and backgrounds. While working from home may suit one person, one size doesn’t fit all. A hybrid working model is a compromise, a policy which more companies are embracing, but if a team isn’t aligned, challenges can arise. Organised team days and planned collaborations can help ease the strain to ensure a working from home/office balance is in place.

A more flexible approach demonstrates the employer instils trust in the workforce to conduct business as usual and will encourage a positive environment, employee retention and satisfaction.

If you want to discuss this further or have questions about retaining your staff, get in touch with Ruth at

Ruth has joined Acre supporting organisations across FMCG and Retail embedding Sustainability through consulting and developing their teams and recruitment. This fast-growing sector is something that aligns closely with Ruth's core values and prior professional and educational experience. 

Ruth has experience recruiting Internationally in the Renewables and Clean Energy space, focused on the core value of Sustainability. She holds a 2:1 in BA Geography from the University of Brighton. This was specialised on Sustainable Development, EIA and Geographical Politics, which she applies daily to her practice in recruiting into the Sustainability space and in Acre.