Sustainability & employee benefits: 4 employees from 4 generations share their views on what matters most

Are ESG considerations only relevant to younger generations, or are they important to everyone when making employment decisions? Hear from 4 employees of different ages on why it matters to them.

Yugi the Giraffe - 3 August 2022

With Millennials and Generation Z now accounting for over half the UK workforce, their perspectives are also increasingly influencing employment priorities – and a greater emphasis on sustainability and social impact initiatives is emerging.

But is it just the younger generation who care about social and environmental issues? Or has the widespread coverage and growing awareness of their importance led to them becoming a crucial attraction and retention factor for employees of all age groups?

We sat down with four different employees across four different generations, Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, and Boomer, to hear their perspectives on working for an employer that is socially and environmentally responsible, and whether ESG is key to their engagement and emotional investment in the workplace.

To what extent would you say that you were socially and environmentally conscious?

Olivia, Gen Z, Marketing Manager at Cloud International: I am an environmentally conscious person. I try to recycle and also walk wherever I can - all those little things that make a difference to the impact I'm having on the planet.

Samantha, Millennial, Marketing & Operations Specialist at whyaye!: On a scale, I would say probably a 7 out of 10. There’s a lot that I could do more. But there are definitely things that I have changed within my lifestyle to benefit the environment and be a bit more thoughtful and socially aware.

Tim Martin, Gen X, Enterprise Change & Adoption Delivery Lead at whyaye!: I am somebody that would jokingly describe myself as an ‘eco warrior’, and I have done for quite a long time. Since I was at university in the mid-90 I have been quite environmentally conscious, and it’s continued to grow since then.

Neil Penter, Boomer, National Compliance & Governance manager at Liberty Global: I have become more environmentally aware of my surroundings - but I’m not the extreme. I recycle and bought a hybrid car 10 years ago because I knew it would be better for the environment. These days I walk a lot of places. I would never dream of getting in the car to go on a 10-minute walk to the shops, which I probably would have done 10 years ago.

Is having a socially and environmentally responsible employer important to you?

Olivia: When the company that you work for supports things like planting trees or anything environmentally or socially responsible, it makes a huge difference. It is definitely something that resonates with me, and I want to work for a business that shares my values.

It’s all well and good having them written on the website or in the careers brochure, but at Cloud International, we’ve actually got things in place that means that we can make a difference, and I think that’s really important.

“It's really important to have an employer that recognises that the things they do have an impact.”

Samantha: Definitely - it has a real feel-good factor. Having opportunities to contribute to these initiatives within Whyaye! has definitely impacted my mental health for the better. If you feel like you’re doing good, you feel good inside, and it’s definitely made a positive impact on my wellbeing.

Tim: To me, it's really important to have an employer that recognises that the things they do have an impact. It’s not about being perfect,  but just understanding that impact and doing everything you can do to either make it not a bad impact or a positively good one - and through YuLife there’s loads of ways that a company can do that.

Neil: It’s incredibly important. If you’d asked me that question 20 years ago I probably would have said ‘what’s that about?’ But in this day in age, it’s essential. Working for a company like Liberty allows me to give back to both the community and the environment, and the ability to make a difference has been so good for my wellbeing.

Would you steer clear of an employer who didn’t care about ESG issues?

Samantha: I would say that recently my mindset has definitely changed now that I understand the importance of ESG. Before, when it wasn’t spoken about enough, you didn’t really understand the detriment of not having these initiatives.

I think being with Whyaye! has opened my eyes, and I would definitely say that going forward I would look at it as part of the right step to finding the right company.

Tim: It’s something that’s been important for quite a long time, so it would absolutely factor into my decision for who I work for. I would definitely not want to work for certain types of company that didn’t embody those values.

"As a whole, we’re having more and more discussions about the environment and what we can all do to make a difference, particularly conversations around what our companies can do."

Neil: It is part of the job now - the ability to give back. I don’t think I would move somewhere that didn’t give me those opportunities.

Would you say that your peer group feels the same?

Samantha: As a whole, we’re having more and more discussions about the environment and what we can all do to make a difference, particularly conversations around what our companies can do. I have a few friends that have spoken about how they’re getting involved in initiatives to change things and change people’s mindsets within work.

Tim: It’s really difficult to generalise, as my generation is quite a broad one from a time perspective – a real spectrum of people. I know a lot of people who aren’t bothered at all and some who are really really passionate about it, so there’s really quite a range.

It feels like, compared to when I started to get into ESG in the 90s at uni, things are quite different now – it’s much more acknowledged in the mainstream. When I started getting interested in green issues it was extremely niche.  You had to really hunt out like-minded people. But now it’s out there in the mainstream media and it's making a massive difference.

Neil: I would say some of my peer group probably won’t feel the same as me. We are an older generation coming towards the end of our working careers. But then, at the same time, there are definitely some within my social network for who it would be an important part of their employment decisions.

Conclusion

It seems that for employees across all generations, having an employer that aligns with causes they care about is essential to building a meaningful employee experience and positive work culture.

In short, establishing purpose at the centre of your people strategy isn't just a nice to have, it’s increasingly becoming a powerful tool for employee retention, attraction and engagement. Thankfully, YuLife can support businesses of all sizes in building an ESG strategy.

By rewarding members with YuCoin for engaging in healthy behaviours such as walking, running, cycling and mindfulness, partnering with YuLife means that companies can make an immediate difference to both the wellbeing of employees, and their direct impact on climate change, by encouraging them toward lower-impact modes of transport.

Another way YuLifers can spend their YuCoin is by supporting social and environmental causes they feel passionate about. For instance, YuLife members can donate YuCoin to plant trees, provide food and water to families in need and help crowdfund career opportunities for homeless people.

To learn more about how YuLife can help your business to achieve its ESG goals, click here to get in touch with a member of our team.

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