The importance of sustainability to millennial workers


By Sustainability Matters Staff
Wednesday, 17 May, 2017


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One out of every three millennials (also known as Gen Y) are so committed to sustainability that they take a company’s reputation as a sustainable business into consideration when choosing their next job, according to a study commissioned by Rubbermaid Commercial Products (RCP).

‘Recycling in the Workplace: A Millennial View’ examines the latest trends transforming the workplace, focusing on the next generation of workers’ attitudes towards the spaces where they work. Conducted by research organisation Lightspeed, the study surveyed more than 1000 millennials aged 18–34, along with 264 members of Gen X (aged 35–49) and 236 baby boomers (aged 50–64).

The survey found that almost one in two millennials (47%) are so committed to sustainability issues they would be willing to give up a day of annual leave if all of the employees at their company recycled. Two in three (67%) said they would give up social media for a week if all of the employees at their company committed to recycling.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • Nine in 10 millennials say it is important they work for a sustainable company, compared to 84% of Gen Xers and 77% of baby boomers. Nearly one in 10 would quit their jobs if they found out their current employer was not sustainable.
  • 58% of millennials say they have taken something another person threw away at work and recycled it.
  • 82% of millennials look for opportunities to help their company become more sustainable and 67% feel they have enough influence in their workplace to make an impact on matters such as sustainability.
  • Over 80% of millennials whose employer does not have a recycling system in place believe employers have a responsibility to encourage recycling in the workplace.
  • 77% of millennials say they recycle at work while 83% say they recycle at home, suggesting recycling at work is more challenging.

In 2015, millennials officially surpassed Generation X as the largest share of the US workforce, thus wielding the power to shape today’s workplace practices and values. And as this generation continues to enter the job market, employers will need to take notice of what these workers are saying and adapt their sustainability strategies accordingly.

“The findings of our recycling study show a tangible commitment to sustainability is a requirement for the next generation of workers,” said Anna Whitton, vice president of marketing at RCP. “Millennials are ready to make a difference and willing to turn down jobs that don’t align with their beliefs. RCP will continue working with this emerging generation to promote waste reduction and provide superior recycling solutions in commercial environments.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Boggy

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