The world is changing, and employee expectations are changing along with it. The last few years have seen enormous shifts in the work world, from employee and customer priorities to the very nuts and bolts of how, when, and where we work. One of the other major shifts is how strongly employees are prioritizing sustainability and green initiatives. In fact, a company’s dedication to sustainability and environmental stewardship is quickly becoming one of the most important factors in attracting and retaining top talent.
Employees Care About Sustainability More Than Ever
While the past two or three years have really kicked things into overdrive, environmental concerns have been a growing issue for employees for several years. A 2016 Core Communications study revealed some key facts about employees:
- 51% of surveyed employees would not work for a company if it lacks strong sustainability policies.
- 74% said they find their jobs more fulfilling when given the chance to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues.
- 70% of employees said they would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to solutions to sustainability issues.
- 83% of millennial workers would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues.
- 64% of the millennial demographic say they would not take a job if the company doesn’t have a strong corporate social responsibility policy.
Right now, sustainability is one of the top growing concerns for employees, many of whom are seeking new or improved jobs in the ripple effects from the Great Resignation and the accompanying, worker-friendly labor market. In 2021, an IBM survey revealed that 71% of employees and job seekers say that environmentally sustainable companies are more attractive employers. Over two-thirds also reported being more likely to apply for and accept jobs with environmentally and socially responsible organizations, and nearly half would even accept a lower salary to work for those companies.
What Leadership Is Thinking — And Doing
It’s clear from this that environmental concerns, climate change, and overall sustainable practices are major concerns for everyday employees. So how is this translating up the hierarchy and into the rooms where decisions are being made?
In Deloitte’s 2022 CXO Sustainability Report, leaders acknowledge the pressures they’re facing from external and internal sources to improve sustainability initiatives. 65% reported feeling large to moderate pressure from employees to act on climate change, and a full 96% admit that they expect climate change to impact their companies’ strategies and actions in the next few years. 88%, meanwhile, feel some sense of optimism that, with the right actions, the worst possible outcomes can be averted.
What might some of those actions look like? Deloitte’s study found five “needle-moving” actions that seem to correlate with leadership that prioritizes long-term benefits over short-term obstacles and costs:
- Developing new, climate-friendly products or services
- Requiring suppliers and business partners to meet specific sustainability criteria
- Updating or relocating facilities to make them more resistant to climate impacts
- Incorporating climate considerations into lobbying and political donations
- Tying senior leader compensation to sustainability performance
These actions also fit the criteria for what employees are looking for: measurable, dedicated action that prioritizes real change, rather than a more palatable gloss on business as usual. With strong, decisive leadership, companies can both lead the way in building a better future and create a better today in the eyes of their current and prospective employees.
About the Author
Christopher Rios is a Founding Member of Blue Rock Search. He has over twenty-five years in Hospitality and Executive Search and leads the Blue Rock CX practice. His desire and passion to deliver an exceptional and engaging Client and Candidate Experience has led him to his current role as Chief Experience Officer. He has over fifteen years of hospitality experience as an executive chef and has been recruiting executive and senior-level talent in Customer Experience, HR, and Hospitality for over a decade.
In his capacity as CXO, Chris oversees the retained CX Executive Search practice, which specializes in the identification, assessment, recruitment, and onboarding of executive-level CX leaders and their teams inclusive of Leaders across all Experience Disciplines (Patient, Digital, User, Employee, etc.), Customer Success, Care & Support, Contact/Call Centers, Professional and Managed Services, VOC/VOE as well as Insights and Analytics.