With Generation Z and Millennials now representing over half the UK workforce, their fresh perspectives and views are also starting to dominate and change employment priorities. Employers have no other option but to consider the new set of values, ethics, and priorities they bring with them.
One of these is a greater push for business sustainability, and a real desire for employers to authentically adopt a green approach to their businesses. The pandemic has highlighted not just the growing need to look after ourselves (in the workplace and beyond), but also to look after the planet.
In this post we examine why younger generations are making a greater push for business sustainability, and what employers can do to align with their values.
“A high salary for work that feels meaningless can only satisfy one for so long, whereas feeling like we’re contributing to the greater good and making a difference has a positive effect on our self-esteem. It can even reduce feelings of burnout”
– Dr Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for Mental Health Bupa
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How the current climate is impacting a greater push for business sustainability
The pandemic has acted as a catalyst for workplace and social changes that were already beginning. From mental health being more open to a charged socio-political atmosphere taking hold, a push for greater focus on climate change is no surprise!
Around a quarter of respondents from a Cardiff University Survey thought that climate change was now the biggest issue facing Britain in the next 20 years – a clear shift in public opinion.
Covid has meant a massive push towards different ways of working. Strategies and policies that otherwise would have taken years to be properly implemented have been pushed forward. Remote and hybrid working as the most obvious example.
Two-thirds of Millennials and Gen Zs agree with the statement, “environmental changes seen during the pandemic make me more optimistic that climate change can be reversed”, with around 40% believing there will be a greater commitment to taking personal action for the environment and climate post-pandemic.
So, why are these digital natives so certain in their belief that things are finally going to change? Why are these generations, in particular, pushing for greater business sustainability?
Millennials & Gen Z leading the way for green practices
Gen Z place a huge emphasis on a company’s commitments to environmental, social, and governance standards (ESG). 1 in 3 agreed they would turn down job opportunities and 54% reported being willing to take a pay cut for the sake of ESG concerns.
A genuine appetite to put the planet before personal profit and career progression has swept across these generations – on average workers are willing to accept a salary reduction of £8,100 a year.
Now that’s committing to the green cause!
68% of Gen Z feel more concerned about environmental issues than other age groups. Exploring a company’s green credentials is a practice that is becoming commonplace in job-hunting, making it an issue that employers must take seriously. There are practical reasons why younger generations are becoming more selective in this way:
- The belief that a sustainable employer is more likely to care for the wellbeing of their staff
- A desire for more meaningful work post-Covid
- An overall realisation that meaningful work will lead to greater satisfaction and engagement
For this reason, a commitment to business sustainability is not only good for the planet; it will also benefit any employer who wants to attract talent from the widest talent pool. The “green mindset” seems to be spreading across the generations: 51% of all ages say they would be more engaged with the overall organisation and 53% more satisfied with their jobs when working for a company with strong environmental ethics.
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2 simple ways that employers can become more eco-friendly
More and more employees want to feel that their work makes a difference, meaning companies need to improve their eco-friendly credentials in meaningful ways.
Below are two easy and low-cost ways that employers can incorporate business sustainability into their company.
Instigate remote working policies:
Providing employees with the choice of working from home indefinitely or adopting hybrid flexible working cuts costs and reduces the number of people commuting to work. Providing this sort of flexibility also supports mental wellbeing by recognising employees’ working preferences and personal needs.
If team members worked from home at least twice a week, it would lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by an annual 14.3 megatons of Co2 equivalent. That’s by any standard an impressive reduction.
Encourage greener commutes:
Transport is responsible for 27% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, so a change in how we get to and from work will make a huge difference. As outlined above, suggesting remote and flexible working is one way to achieve this. Here are a few other low-cost suggestions:
- Cycle2Work Scheme
- Electric vehicle salary sacrifice *
- Employee discounts for eco-friendly purchases
- Travel loan schemes for buses and trains – e.g., bus pass reductions
*WorkLife by OpenMoney has partnered with Octopus Electric Vehicles to offer a new benefit: leasing electric vehicles via salary sacrifice arrangement.
“Aside from the obvious environmental benefits, electric vehicle lease schemes can create significant cost savings for employees through fuel and national insurance contributions, meaning they have become increasingly popular among firms wanting to help workers manage the rising cost of living.”
– Rob Marshall, Head of Product & Proposition at WorkLife by OpenMoney.
Ready to start the green revolution?
Business sustainability initiatives provide many benefits to your organisation from drawing in the best talent to boosting motivation and productivity. Showing employees that you care contributes to the overall success of any business.
If your employees want to see a shift in the way your company values the planet, it’s important to respond. As we’ve demonstrated, it’s possible to make simple changes at a low cost. Taking action meaningful action will help employees develop a deeper sense of belonging, drive, dedication and purpose, and allow them to take greater pride in the work they perform.
Is business sustainability something you want to incorporate into your company employee benefits? Contact us at Engage for our free no-obligation advice.