Millennials Really Do Want To Work for Environmentally-Sustainable Companies, According to a New Survey of Large Company Employees
G&A's Sustainability Highlights (02.22.2019)
Here we are in the new millennium, since 2000 or 2001 (the clear delineation has been debated) and the generation that straddles the 20th and 21st centuries has characteristics that may be quite different for employers (and as customers, investors, voters).
The Millennial Generation has been defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as those men and women born between 1981 and 1996, who are 23-to-38 years of age in 2019. (For sure, the exact definition of generations is not always in general agreement.) This cohort succeeded the smaller-sized “Generation Xers” and the large Baby Boom generation (born 1946-1964, originally 77 million strong and two-thirds larger than the “Silents” before them). The long-dominant Boomer population has been decreasing in size since 2012…so what comes next for the business sector and the financial sector?
Millennials – and then over time the Post-Millennials, those born 1997-to-the-present day. But today’s focus is on the many impacts, strong and subtle, of the Millennials.
The Pew Research Center sees some of the defining trends for the Millennials as including experiencing the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the aftermath; the 2008 financial crisis and the impacts of the Great Recession that followed; steadily escalating costs for higher education and housing…and other factors that created “slow starts” for their careers and “that will be a factor for American society for decades to come.”
This is also the generation that grew up surrounded with technology and for some, the experience of transition from land-line phones to cell and then on to iPhones; and for most, the internet became the center of life, observes the Pew researchers.
So what should business leaders expect as this maturing generation – in terms of attractive to potential job applicants and for retention of Millennials already under the roof?
Fast Company, the go-to magazine for many in the generation, says corporate sustainability is a priority and most Millennials would actually take a pay cut to work at an environmentally-responsible company; 40 percent have already done so because “company sustainability”. That is higher than the answers of respondents of prior generations (below 25% for Gen X and 17% for parents and grandparents in the post-WW II Boomer crowd).
Millennial survey respondents (40%) said they have chosen a job because the company performed better on sustainability than other choices…something only 17% of Boomers said they had done. As for employee retention, 70% of Millennials said they would stay with a company if it had a strong sustainability plan.
Are these survey results a “blip”? Fast Company tells us that in 2016 a similar survey reported 64% of Millennials said they would not take a job at a company that was not “socially responsible” -- and 75% said they would take a smaller salary to work at a company more in line with their “values”.
The 2019 survey was based on conversations with 1,000 employees at large U.S. companies. More than 70% of respondents said they would choose to work at a company with a strong environmental agenda, and a sizable number said they would take a pay cut to do so.
Today’s business leaders need to keep these attitudes in mind as this significant demographic shift is taking place. As the huge generation of Baby Boomers continue to age out of the workplace (the oldest are 73 years of age, the youngest are 55), Millennials will make up three-out-of-every-four workers in the next six years, staff writer Adele Peters tells readers.(And the Census Bureau says they are one-out-of-four of the total US population today.)
The survey was commissioned by the blockchain-based clean energy platform Swytch – another sign of the times; this is a new platform organized to track and verify the impact of sustainability efforts and action on the global level of C02 emissions using blockchain technology. The company says that consumers reducing their energy use can win tokens. Is this 21st Century approach to currency exchange a “blip”? Perhaps not – JPMorgan Chase recently announced its own crypto-currency and as we write this, Bitcoin values are at $4,000.
Says Swytch co-founder Evan Caron of the survey: “From my perspective, it’s a competitive advantage for large enterprises to really align themselves with employees’ ideas about creating more environmentally-sustainable choices.”
This is just the introduction of G&A's Sustainability Highlights newsletter this week. Click here to view full issue.