SMEs employ more than 60 percent of Germany's workers and generate more than 30 percent of sales. That makes them an important factor for a successful transformation to an economy which is both more environmentally- and people-friendly. Against the backdrop of society's expectations and the legal framework on one hand, and demographic change and the resulting need for skilled workers on the other, one central question arises: What can make country areas and SMEs as employers so attractive that people want to live and work there - and what role does the SMEs' social and environmental activism play?
To find the answer to this, the researchers asked around: in businesses and in some 1000 households; they asked experts, and potential employees - high school students, students in higher education, and trainees. They reached the conclusion that caring about the workers and environmental awareness were key characteristics of many SMEs, but that businesses often had too little structure for the corresponding activities and were not adequately able to integrate them into their external image. The household surveys in particular showed that people were interested in the social and environmental activities of their region's SMEs, but often felt that they were not sufficiently informed about them. This reveals greater potential for stronger external communication under the motto: Act sustainably and talk about it. Regional networks in particular could prove to be useful here. A sustainable regional brand can also present a good opportunity to help reach important target groups locally.
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