Competition for millennial employees is tight. Younger recruits have a reputation for being creatively resourceful and receptive to responsible business considerations, as well as demonstrating digital fluency and sensitivity to the ethos of emerging market needs and demands. The latter trait, which makes younger staff so valuable, creates challenges as well as opportunities for human resources professionals seeking to attract new talent.
Tapping into the millennial talent market requires a shift in how recruitment managers and companies overall think about what makes their businesses attractive. Millennial employees place a high value on non-traditional workplace benefits. Working for a value-driven company with a high level of ecological consciousness becomes equally important as their bonus or benefits’ policies. In particular, younger employees place a high value on working for firms that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.
According to Deloitte’s Global Millennial Survey 2019, conducted across 42 countries to collect insight into millennial perspectives, while younger employees continue to value earnings and ownership of property, they place greater emphasis than their older colleagues on other aspects of working life.
Their priorities include being a positive influence on the world and their most concerning single issue is climate change and the environment. Millennials value pragmatic actions and don’t have a high level of trust in politicians to solve these problems. This leaves a huge opportunity for companies to take over and fill this space!
Prioritising sustainable practices can therefore be one of the single most effective ways to be competitive as a company in attracting and retaining top talent. That means incorporating sustainability practices as a core element of corporate strategy by engaging leadership teams and establishing governance frameworks.
When a sustainability message is championed by the leadership and promoted throughout the business, that does more than simply contribute to the company’s role in environmental stewardship and reflect its consideration of climate issues. A company openly driven to increase ecological consciousness also sends a strong signal to potential candidates, current employees and future investors about its values. The CEO’s of some of the biggest companies have clearly understood that trend according to this recent article from Fortune.
Human resources experts have an important role to play too in catalysing that shift at corporate level, with their understanding of the impact of such moves on both talent recruitment and retention. It’s time for HR Managers to embrace a strategy that emphasises ethics and employee well-being within the context of environmental concern.
HR managers can encourage sustainable practices and develop policies to help companies shift toward models that are more attuned to the concerns of younger employees in a number of ways. Policies geared toward optimisation of sustainability are best guided by strong values and purpose – and ideally go a step further, by ensuring these values are effectively incorporated in a visible way in all HR practices.
The kinds of practices that companies can pursue actively and visibly aren’t limited to electricity saving and waste reduction strategies, although these can be a good first step. Limiting paper printing by encouraging and facilitating the adoption of digital tools and transitioning to organic and locally-sourced options in cafeterias and for catered events are also good initiatives.
But the market is also ready to support bolder moves that research shows appeal especially to millennial employees and that they are ready to champion. It’s time to phase out certain business practices that have been taken for granted over past decades, including undertaking carbon-intensive trips for conferences or meetings that can be conducted as effectively on online video platforms.
Offering incentives to employees to take public transport by contributing to monthly travel passes or helping to offset the cost of membership of car-sharing programmes can help to support a reduction of fossil fuel consumption. When employees select their company car, offer them a bigger budget for choosing a fuel-efficient hybrid or electric car.
Sustainability isn’t just about implementing policies to encourage environmental stewardship, though; it’s also about selecting carefully the external providers a firm interacts with based on their sustainable standards and practices.
On a day-to-day level this could also mean creating a workplace in which individual employees can feel part of a community where their creative input is valued and their needs are met.
That means increasing efforts to maintain employment through retraining programmes instead of undertaking cycles of hiring and firing, and initiating flexible working schemes such as work-from-home options, which help to encourage diversity.
Building companies of the future means thinking creatively and innovating at every level, and HR managers have an important role to play in generating and stimulating that innovation. It’s not just about fostering creative thinking for the future but attracting it, too.