What Climate Talent Expect in a Role

Understanding that job seeker motivations extend beyond emissions reduction and climate impact will help hiring managers attract talent that will provide the most long-term value.

What Climate Talent Expect in a Role

Picture this. You just closed out your most recent funding round, have an exceptional road map for your company’s solution, and have perfected your product-market fit. Everything is going great, except you have no time left in the day.

It’s time to hire some help.

But where do you even begin? The first step to hiring your next employee is to lay the foundation for your hiring trajectory before deciding on the role, weeks for outlining the position, and months before writing the job description.

Understanding that job seeker motivations extend beyond emissions reduction and climate impact will help hiring managers attract talent that will provide the most long-term value. Real-world considerations like pay, job security, company culture, and flexibility are still primary considerations and must be considered.

At Climate People, we’ve worked with over 50 exceptional climate companies looking to grow their team and extend the reach of their climate solutions. These companies are founded by incredibly intelligent, driven, and passionate employees who genuinely want to make a difference for our planet.

While extremely well-intentioned,  some climate companies leverage meaningful work as their primary and, sometimes, only selling point for potential hires. When you put it into context, this makes sense. These founders care so deeply about their climate solution that they have dedicated their careers and entire livelihood to propel the mission forward.

It understandable that a Founder would want their employees to carry the same dedication toward the company. However, expecting the same level of passion is not always feasible and can stagger company growth in the long run.

As we’ve repeated time and time again, we’re still in the early days of climate employment adoption. We need millions of people working in this space by the end of the decade. Founders and hiring managers that optimize their company pitch solely around climate impact may miss out on key early hires that can help rapidly scale the business. We consistently speak with job seekers looking for impactful work that aligns with their career ambitions. While climate work is often a new and exciting option, it’s not the only consideration for these job seekers.

Founders should meet these job seekers where they are, some are less knowledgeable of careers in climate, but can be persuaded to take a job in the space if they feel the company aligns with the other search factors they consider.

Most Americans believe that climate change needs to be addressed. 2022 Statistics from PEW Research show:

  • Three-quarters of Americans support the U.S. participating in international efforts to help reduce the effects of climate change.
  • Three-quarters of Americans say that human activity, such as burning fossil fuels, contributes to climate change, with 46% saying it contributes significantly.
  • Regarding specific policies, 69% of U.S. adults favor the United States taking steps to become carbon neutral by 2050.
  • About seven in ten Americans (69%) prioritize developing alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar, over expanding the production of oil, coal, and natural gas production.

People are worried about climate change. Unfortunately the majority of these same people don’t realize they can work professionally in an area to impact it. Job seekers have misconceptions surrounding climate jobs and their requirements. The Climate People team recently conducted a survey that asked job seekers what was preventing them from taking a job in climate. Our results showed that 51% of respondents said they are disqualifying themselves and aren’t applying to jobs because they don’t have climate industry experience.

It’s critical to convey that climate experience isn’t necessary to cultivate a workforce transition to work on climate. ClimateTech companies also need to prioritize the real-world factors that go into the job decision-making process. When we’re sourcing people who are not strictly dedicated to climate jobs, we must focus on other incentives.

This same survey proved that to compete with other industries, climate companies must prioritize the real-world factors that go into the job decision-making process. Candidates care about climate and the mission but aren’t willing to sacrifice salary, flexibility, remote work (job dependent), etc. When asked about why working on climate is essential, 79% said ‘reducing emissions’; however, when asked which real-life job factors were most important to these same job seekers, that number dropped to 55%. Factors like ‘pay’ increased from 23%→54% and ‘job security’ increased two-fold from 19%→41%.

To attract qualified talent, we encourage hiring managers to consider these incentives when crafting their hiring strategy:

Competitive compensation

  • Use a service like PayScale to ensure that your budget for the role is on track with other similar positions. People who aren’t intrinsically motivated by climate will be less likely to transition their careers if they have to take a pay cut.

    If your company does not have the funds to compete with similar positions, ensure that you offer equity options. Many people consider working at startups for this very reason.

Job Security

  • According to our survey, job security is the most important factor for 41% of job seekers. Due to demand, funding, and innovation, climate is a very secure industry. The hiring manager’s role is to illustrate the company's runway and security and ensure that the potential new hires have full transparency.

Flexible work conditions

  • The sitting in a chair eight hours a day methodology is outdated. Job seekers want to be trusted to get their work done. Your expectations for the role should rely on outcomes, not time to complete.

Flexible work locations

  • Does the role require people to be in person? If not, having a flexible work-from-home policy will help attract talent to your company. Many job seekers are eliminating roles from their search if they aren’t remote-forward. According to Owl Labs, if the ability to work from home was taken away, two-thirds (66%) of workers would immediately start looking for a job that offered flexibility, and 39% would simply quit. This stat also applies to those who are looking for a new role.

Growth potential

  • It’s critical to outline how your future employees can grow within their position. People oftentimes choose to work at smaller-stage companies because they can make a direct impact and progress their careers alongside the company. Ensure that you’re thinking about the long-term growth of the role to keep your new hires engaged and enthused.

Sufficient (and encouraged) PTO

  • Giving a hearty amount of PTO days isn’t enough. You must create a culture that fosters work-life balance. Set the standard from the very beginning and ensure that your potential new hires can see this from the get-go.

Professional development

  • Job seekers want to see growth potential within their role. To grow, job seekers need to be able to up-skill within their current position — professional development is key to this. People often accept jobs at early-stage companies because of the immense amount of growth that is possible, it’s important to supplement this progression with professional development stipends.

Team building/off-sites

  • Company culture is critical to attracting new hires. In a fully remote world, having team off-sites allows the company to grow and connect in a way that will lead to increased collaboration. Even if your company is in-person, we still recommend that you host gatherings/events to bring the team together.

401K (extra points if you go with a climate-focused one, like Carbon Collective)

  • After doing some research on GreenBiz, we discovered:
    - A Natixis survey shows 74 percent of plan participants want access to ESG funds in their retirement savings plan.
    - A 2017 survey by NAPA also found that 67 percent of employees who do not participate in their 401(k) plans would choose to do so if they had access to an SRI-oriented portfolio.
    - Additionally, 60 percent of surveyed participants said they would increase their contribution rate if they knew their investments were benefitting the "social good.”

    Having a well-intentioned and thought-through 401K plan is something many job seekers are prioritizing in their search.

Healthcare coverage

  • The more comprehensive your healthcare coverage, the more likely candidates will seriously consider your company. There are countless resources out there that can help you decide which plan is the best for your company.

Team culture

  • Culture can’t be an afterthought, it has to be deeply rooted in all business decisions. Before you hire your first employee, you should have a strong grasp of your values, your company’s mission, and how those two will mesh together as you bring on more team members.

At the end of the day, climate companies have an advantage over traditional organizations. People want to work in meaningful fields, which is an incredible selling point. However, it cannot be the sole selling point as you attempt to expand your team.

The team at Climate People would love to help you navigate your hiring journey. Our door is always open if you want to discuss your hiring path forward.

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