With Earth Day just around the corner (tomorrow to be exact), it begs the question: Do employees care about working at a sustainable office anymore? It seems other workplace trends including activity-based working and offering flexible hours have pushed sustainability down the totem pole. One group that definitely considers a workplace's sustainability influence a major consideration? You guessed it, the millennials. Here's why going green should still be a focus for your office, and the unexpected benefit that comes from it.
The Greenest Generation?
Maybe it's the fact that they're currently witnessing rapid resource depletion, or maybe that the U.S. releases more carbon per capita than almost any country in the world. Perhaps it's the thought that Americans throw away 25,000,000 plastic bottles every hour, or that globally, in the last 100 years, we’ve consumed more resources than all of human history combined. Whatever the trigger, millennials (like all generations) are hyper-aware of the impact our actions are having on our planet. While this does not make them saints when it comes to reducing their carbon footprint, there's no denying millennials and every other generation, are actively trying to find the solution to the problem we all share.
Impacting Workplace Selection
It's already documented that millennials are willing to spend more on high-quality goods where the manufacturer has actively reduced their impact on the environment, or that give back to the community in some way, like Tom's shoes. Almost 95% of the workplace's youngest generation want to use their skills to benefit a cause. Why wouldn't they expect an employer facilitate those needs?
In fact, according to a survey by Net Impact, 80% of young adults "want to work for a company that cares about its impacts. In the same survey, more than half said they would refuse to work for an irresponsible corporation."
In a recent survey about millennials and their commitment at work by Deloitte, it was noted that 87 percent of the generation believes that “the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance.” Supporting the idea that this generation is starting to hold businesses accountable for their impact on the environment, while also expecting a certain level of corporate responsibility to give back where they can.
Emphasis on Making a Difference
The youngest generation holds a strong sense of responsibility surrounding society's greatest challenges. While many millennials feel unable to exert any meaningful influence when acting alone, "in the workforce they can feel a greater sense of control—the feeling they can be an active participant rather than a bystander." In Deloitte's survey, it was noted that 57% wish that there were more company-wide service days.
It's important your organization makes a conscious effort to give back to the community, and preferably in some way that makes sense for your industry. While focusing on sustainability is always a good choice, consider offering other ways for your employees to give back. If the type of work your employees are doing isn't directly making a positive impact, consider offering paid volunteer-time or other company initiatives so your team members feel involved.
The Reality of Going Green
The truth is all this talk of "going green" and offering grand initiatives like paid volunteer days may not be immediately feasible for your organization. However, there are always small steps you can take to help reduce your impact, while still increasing your appeal with millennials. Simply offering locally sourced options in the cafeteria, installing a bike racks to encourage alternate transportation, or having multiple types of recycling bins throughout your office sends a positive message. Consider adopting IWMS software that tracks spatial usage, so your company can cut back on square footage (and resources used) where you need to. Talk to your C-suite about why these initiatives will help attract top talent, and keep the talent you do have. Every stride we take in the right direction makes a difference, even those seemingly small steps. Happy Earth Day!