No man is an island, and no company is successful without a talented, engaged workforce.
But finding and retaining talent is getting increasingly hard. Our work, and with it our work lives and habits, have changed drastically within the last couple of years and will continue to do so.
If you want to run a successful business, you need grade-A employees. For that, you need to get with the program — employee engagement with sustainability.
The future is green — and so are your employees
Look around you. Newspapers, TV, your Facebook feed, even around the dinner table at home. Climate change, sustainability, and the green agenda is on everyone’s mind, and with good reason. This post isn’t about why global climate change is important, or why we need to act. It’s about how sustainability plays a role in terms of the kind of workforce you can attract to your company, and how your approach to sustainability is key to attracting and retaining talented employees.
You may not run a company in a green industry, which is a shame because sustainable business is an untapped $12 trillion opportunity, but you still need to have an environmental agenda.
Today’s workforce isn’t content with a decent paycheck and free coffee. A good 9–5 with a steady income is a thing of the past. So is keeping your employees happy by throwing money at them.
Who is this new workforce, and why is sustainability a large part of their career decisions?
The millennial — the employee of your dreams?
For the past five years millennials have taken a lot of heat, both in national media and pop culture.
From avocado toast addictions to the narcissistic selfie generation, you have undoubtedly heard, seen, and experienced them.
But the shade that’s been thrown on millennials is out of proportion.
They grew up in the worst economy of a century, at a time where rampant student loans and housing prices excluded them from markets that were easily available to baby boomers. The media often portrays them as carefree high-school kids, while in reality the age range of millennial was 23-38 in 2018, meaning more than half are in their 30s.
But there is a side to millennials that news media rarely mentions: their burning passion for making the world better.
Sustainability as a natural part of a career
Multiple studies and surveys carried out in the past five years highlight that millennials are more likely to be involved in Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR- and sustainability-related work, and we’re not just talking small initiatives or a slight preference for greener products.
Although 73%of millennials are willing to pay more for a sustainable alternative, this preference for green isn’t confined to shopping.
“Nearly 40% of millennials have chosen a job because of company sustainability. Less than a quarter of gen X respondents said the same, and 17% of baby boomers.”— Fast Company
That’s right, close to half of all millennials opt for a green employer. And to be honest, the professionals who have the luxury to choose their employer have a skill set strong enough to work at the company most in line with their values.
In other words, the 40% of millennials who chose green employers, are the talented candidates — these are the candidate your want.
It gets better. A 2016 Cone Communications study revealed that more than 75% of millennials would take a pay cut if their company was environmentally and socially responsible. Furthermore, 10% of those surveyed said that they were even willing to take a pay cut as great as $5,000–$10,000 — yes, you read that right.
It’s not that millennials want more. They want different.
Although we still tend to think of millennials as young rascals, remember they include professionals with almost a decade of experience. And not only do they have experience, but they often have theexperience you need to drive your business forward.
Would you not want someone on your team who has ten years of experience and wants to make the world better?
Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025 — Are your corporate avocados ripe?
Millennials want to do work that matters. And why wouldn’t they?
We all want something in our life that works toward a higher cause, and since millennials hit the workforce with the notion that life is a constant hustle, incorporating meaning in your work life is natural.
Currently, millennials make up 30% of the workforce, but in six short years from now that number is going to rise to 75%.
You need them. And if you’re not green enough, the qualified workforce you are deeply dependent on will go to your competitors.
So how can you make sure you get dream employees?
Taking the first step on the road to becoming a sustainable workplace can feel overwhelming. You may feel like you’re in a line of work where sustainable initiatives aren’t easy, or at least they aren’t cheap. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Here are a few things you can do to get the ball rolling.
- Certify your website as carbon neutral.
- Offset the CO2emissions of your company cars.
- Read the United Nations Sustainable Developments Goals, SGDs, and find a goal that your company wants to get in on.
- Phase out single-use cutlery from your cantina.
- Donate a percentage of your revenue to a green cause.
- Give your employees an extra vacation day if they travel by train/bus, instead of airplane.
These are some ideas to get you started. If you want to learn more about carbon offsetting for cars, you can read about our affordable subscriptions here for employers to easily engage with their employees on climate change.