Generation Z is smart, driven, and cares deeply about the world they’re inheriting — perhaps even more so than older generations. As the youngest cohort in today’s workforce, Gen Z carries a lot of eco-anxiety and considers sustainability to be a huge priority not just in their personal lives, but in their professional lives too.
According to a recent survey, Gen Z cares so much about environmental issues that 1 in 3 would turn down a job opportunity from an employer that wasn’t environmentally conscious. Not to mention, more than half would be willing to take a pay cut for the sake of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns.
“Gen Z cares about sustainability in the workplace because they have knowledge that previous generations didn’t have,” says Asim Hafeez, owner and operator of Empower Energy Solutions. “Gen Z is different. They’ve been raised with knowledge of what is happening to the environment and what causes damage to the environment and how damaging some business practices are. Gen Z is also getting to see the results of poor decisions that have been made environmentally by the generation before. And because they see the side effects, environmental issues are a lot more pressing for them.”
For employers looking to hire the next generation of workers, learn how going green can positively impact your emerging workforce recruiting plans.
Going Green in a Post-COVID Work Environment
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies were able to turn their offices green in a number of ways. Switching to energy efficient light bulbs, setting up recycling and compost bins, and encouraging employees to carpool are just a few examples. Now, with so many businesses operating remotely or in a hybrid model, traditional workplace sustainability efforts may no longer be applicable.
“COVID has shown us just how much waste we create, whether it be energy, water, or material discards,” says Stacy Savage, founder and CEO of Zero Waste Strategies LLC. “For example, an employee would normally use office bins to throw away their trash and possibly recycle and compost their food waste if those options were available to them. Now that employees are working from home, they must look at how much waste they are producing daily in their home bins…the practice of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ can no longer be an excuse as to why we’re not changing our own personal habits.”
Fortunately for employers looking to go green, sustainability efforts can take many forms, some of which don’t necessarily require office space. A few ways remote or hybrid companies can go green include:
- Community philanthropy or corporate volunteer days
- Earth Day sponsorships
- Utilizing data centers and servers that are powered by renewable energy sources
- Building out “green teams” for employee leadership development
Additionally, employers can provide training and educational opportunities for employees to better understand how to practice sustainability in their everyday lives, especially if they are working from home. For example, employers can educate workers on:
- How to start recycling and composting
- How to lower their water, gas, and electricity bills
- How to identify and reduce air and energy leaks in their homes
“The biggest thing a business can do is coaching on what people can do to have a green impact in their day to day lives,” Hafeez says. “Green efforts that happen every day are significantly more important than what happens once a month or once in a while.”
Incorporating Sustainability Efforts Into Employer Branding
Knowing that Gen Z is more likely to be attracted to companies that prioritize sustainability, it’s important to ensure green efforts are being communicated to candidates. Leveraging employer branding, like your employee value proposition (EVP), to promote green initiatives can help spread the word about the impact your company is making on the environment.
“Incorporating sustainability initiatives into the EVP can help to attract candidates who are looking for a workplace that aligns with their values,” says Deepali Vyas, CEO of Fearless+. “Employers can also highlight their sustainability efforts in job descriptions, career pages, and other recruitment materials to showcase their commitment to sustainability.”
Just make sure when you’re promoting green efforts, you aren’t telling any white lies. This digitally-savvy generation will surely be able to sniff out brands that are “greenwashing,” or exaggerating their environmental practices
“Individuals in Gen Z need to be able to trust their employer is doing everything it can to mitigate wastes and emissions to the air, water, and soil,” Savage says. “Additionally, if that employer is greenwashing its sustainability efforts, it is likely they’ll be exposed on social media or viral videos that can create a PR nightmare.”
Building Your Emerging Workforce Recruiting Strategy
When it comes to attracting and retaining Gen Z employees, embracing sustainability, and using it as a tool within employer branding will be crucial. Want to learn more? Contact one of our in-house experts at Monster Strategic Talent Solutions to see how we can help market your brand to today’s top candidates.