Green transition – a promising field where your work has a bigger meaning

“Salary, team, flexibility? Talent already has it all. What they are looking for today is meaningful work!” This is how Mari Sepp, Sunly’s Community Leader responsible for recruiting Sunly’s new people, sums up the current situation in the job market. According to Mari, considering the climate change and energy crisis, ambitious people are looking for ways how to contribute to a new and greener world. Mari Sepp Community Leader

Mari, why did you start to work at Sunly? 

I joined Sunly in the spring of 2019. I used to work in a law firm which I enjoyed, but I wanted my work to have a bigger impact on society. As soon as I heard about Sunly, I did not doubt for a moment. My eyes see a bright future with a company that has a vision and a desire to do things differently. 

Sunly is contributing to a green transition by developing solar and wind farms in the Baltics and Poland and helps the cleantech & electrification startups to grow – this is exactly the purpose and wider meaning that I was looking for. 

Have you noticed that meaningfulness in the workplace is becoming a broader trend? 

We hire people who are renewable energy fans for all positions at Sunly. We are a fast-growing company and we need employees with a keen sense of mission and innovation. We are looking for talent who dare to dream big and make these dreams happen. 

When it comes to the trends, I have noticed that the young people of Generation Z and Millennials want their work to have a positive impact on our planet, and they choose their jobs accordingly.

The recent war in Europe has intensified this trend and extended it to other age groups as well. People want to work in a company that shares their values ​​and contributes to society on a larger scale. Renewable energy helps increase energy security which is an extremely important topic now. Personally, I am incredibly grateful and proud of working in a company that helps Estonia get out of the energy crisis. 

What other trends are important in people’s working lives and how is Sunly following them? 

The biggest change that has taken place in recent years is how we adapt work to people’s lifestyles in the best feasible way. In the past all people worked in the office, now there is much more freedom. 

Secondly, a lot of attention is paid to the employees’ health. A home office has many pros, but one of the cons is isolation which can affect (mental) health and job performance and satisfaction. That is why we have been examining this issue and we decided to offer our employees very thorough health checks every few years. We also support sports and recreation opportunities, provide compensation for health related expenses as well as creating amenities in the office that make it comfortable to come to work either by walking, running or riding a (electric) bicycle. 

Quoting Sunly CEO Priit, Sunly’s people are skillful, curious, and eager to learn, and we are happy to provide things so they can thrive and succeed. We invest in health, so that we feel 100% as often as humanly possible. 

What is the TOP 5 ways to retain good employees? 

  1.  Good work in a growing field! I believe that in the past people mostly worked for money, but nowadays they are thinking also about what they spend a third of their day doing. Would you want to spend 8 hours on something you do not like, is uncomfortable and you don’t believe in? Nobody would want that!  Sunly promotes – let’s do things we enjoy and that create value for ourselves and others. No wonder it is very satisfying when you can combine your hobby and work. 
  1.  Professional development opportunities! Work must excite people. Our renewable energy company is developing so fast that I don’t see people getting bored. But if that happens, we offer our people the opportunity to move within the company in the direction they want. It is very important for us that people can do what they really love, want and know. Thus, we encourage internal career move and communicate this to our people when recruitment competitions take place. As the cleantech field is developing at a fast pace and requires a lot of competencies. We have launched a series of Shared Brain trainings, where we learn from each other. Sometimes we invite external experts to speak. In addition, we support trainings that promote employees’ self-development. 
  1. Trust, freedom, and responsibility! They are known to go hand in hand. Sunly executives trust employees with lots of freedom to make their own decisions including deciding on additional positions and in the selection of a new employee in their team. Freedom comes with responsibility. Considering this era of home office and hybrid work, we hire professionals who we believe will be able to do their job independently. 
  1.  Financial security! Of course, salary must be good, but we are moving one step further here. To motivate employees in for the long-term, we are developing an options system that can turn employees into owners of Sunly. 
  1. Extra bonuses! It sometimes seems to me that team building events are the biggest motivators for people, so I really like to organize them. We also have additional days off such as health days and marriage leave.

What are some HR challenges a green energy producer may face? 

Rapid growth, but this is also our biggest advantage. A year ago we had about 30 people, now we have 110. In five years, that number will at least triple. Our headquarters is in Tallinn, but most of our employees are in Poland. In addition, we also operate in Latvia and Lithuania. 

Rapid international growth certainly incorporates internal communication challenges. This includes, for example, culture differences and language barriers. We just hired an English teacher and an interpreter in Poland to improve the English language skills of our staff. Poles can be extremely critical of themselves – they can understand English and have a good vocabulary, but do not want to speak until their language skills are perfect. 

We are also currently working on creating our ESG strategy. ESG stands for Environmental, Social and (Corporate) Governance and means a sustainable and responsible approach to business management from an environmental, social, and corporate governance perspective. Due to the company’s nature, our actions are already characterized as responsible and sustainable, but we want to make sure that it is guaranteed at every step and in every country. In addition, the formulation of ESG principles will help increase transparency and exemplify what Sunly believes in and the way it delivers.  

How is a green technology company different from other jobs? 

Sunly has a startup mindset – we want to do things differently, be more innovative, let’s say we want to shake up the energy sector. Sometimes we are seen as an inconvenient partner for the public sector since we encourage others to be more innovative as well.  

Collaboration with communities is also particularly important – we develop solar and wind farms in cooperation with local people. We were pioneers in including landowners in renewable energy projects as owners and helped start the first Energy Cooperative in Estonia. 

Sunly is currently raising capital for the development and construction of its renewable energy projects and has decided to invest 5% of this amount in the cleantech & electrification startups, thus contributing to the progress of research and development. To date, we have invested in 14 electrification startups. 

Lastly, we focus on innovation, we think without limits, while still being realistic and down-to-earth. And we hire people who are like-minded – open and innovative.