How the Environment Impacts Gen Z’s Attitude Toward Work

Employers have typically used salary and benefits to attract and retain staff. Although money is an important motivator for most workers and benefits like health insurance have a potentially significant impact on employees’ bank accounts, it’s a mistake to focus too much on salary and benefits at the expense of other enticements. Here are three reasons why:

3 Key Considerations

First, salary and benefits cost a lot of money, and most companies can’t afford to simply outspend all of their competitors in their recruitment and retention efforts. Second, salary and benefits aren’t scalable. Increasing salary and/or benefits for one employee does nothing for other employees. Finally, salary and benefits, while still important motivators, have been losing ground to other factors, particularly for younger workers.

What Motivates Younger Workers

Younger workers are increasingly interested in the social and cultural profile of potential employers. They want to work for companies that are diverse, inclusive, socially conscious, and environmentally conscious. For example, all else being equal, the typical Gen Zer would take a job with Patagonia over ConAgra.

“In a 2018 survey from global consulting firm Deloitte, 77% of Gen Z respondents said it was important to work at organisations whose values aligned with theirs,” writes Christine Ro in an article for BBC Worklife.

Ro tells us that social matters—in particular, climate change—are especially important to this generation. In the United States, Ro says, members of Gen Z “are much more concerned about climate change than older generations.” The same is true in the United Kingdom, where 64% of those aged 18–22 feel it’s important for employers to be responsible when it comes to environmental issues—59% indicate they would stay longer with employers that are. And, she says, “In Australia, young workers have left companies that aren’t doing enough to respond to climate change.”

Environmental Efforts Can Be Scalable

It isn’t necessarily cheaper to make your organization more environmentally friendly than it is to offer employees more money or better benefits, but it is far more scalable. The boost to a company’s environmental consciousness can be used to entice potential employees, and doing so costs the same whether it makes a company more attractive to one candidate or a thousand.

Particularly in a tight labor market, it’s essential that companies be aware of what jobseekers are looking for in an employer—and that isn’t always salary and benefits.

For companies that already have a solid environmental record, it’s worth advertising. For those with a less-than-stellar record, it may be worth the investment to step up their efforts.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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