As employers globally struggle with the Great Resignation, a pandemic-induced exodus of employees voluntarily leaving their jobs, they are scrambling for strategies to retain their workers.
According to Fortune, an Adobe study found that the “Big Quit” is driven by younger generations, primarily Generation Z and millennials between the ages of 18 and 24, and 25 and 39. The study suggests that Gen Z workers are the least satisfied at work, while both generations are likely to switch jobs for more control over their schedules or to seek more purpose.
At the end of the day, businesses are their people, meaning that this type of dissatisfaction can pose a serious risk to firms while competition to attract new workers is reaching new heights. As such, many employers realize they need to be proactive in finding strategies that make workers want to stay and for attracting new talent.
The Environment In A Work Environment
Some companies have begun to tackle this issue by setting out environmental, social and governance (ESG) agendas because the same Gen Z and millennials that are behind the en masse resignation are also those that are the most engaged with the issue of climate change. Indeed, a study by Pew Research Center shows that these two generations are at the forefront of the climate debate, volunteering, donating, taking part in rallies and protests and sharing materials online.
Organizations that embrace ESG, therefore, can demonstrate their dedication to the greater good, an increasingly attractive proposition for employees demanding a sense of mission from their workplace. As more and more potential employees (and customers and investors) shun businesses that are not committed to building a sustainable future, demand for firms to take a stance on the environment is expected to only grow.
In a survey (registration required) conducted shortly after the outbreak of the pandemic, 65% of employees said they are more likely to work in a company that has a strong environmental policy. ESG and sustainability have become key considerations for modern businesses.
Organizations that hope to boost their resilience must recognize that overarching global issues, such as climate change, are only half of the ESG equation. Yes, ESG strategy should focus on environmental and governance targets, but business leaders must also invest in the resilience and well-being of their workers, paying particular attention to issues that affect the health, community, economic stability, education and social identity of their workforce.
Doing right by “the world” means little when you don’t do right by your employees first, especially when retaining them is a major strategic goal. While social considerations and well-being are intrinsic social facets of ESG, workplaces often do not do enough to guarantee employee wellness, even though studies have shown that a healthy workforce is also a more productive workforce.
One study has found that companies that invest in health, safety and environmental programs outperform the S&P 500 on average. The advent of the pandemic has led a greater number of firms to include employee health and well-being within their ESG strategies, but it is important that firms maintain this outlook even as the pandemic fades.
Healthy World, Healthy Workers, Healthy Workplace
Without a doubt, our workplaces have undergone massive changes of late, with organizations embracing hybrid schedules and remote or alternate work locations.
Physical changes have also been made to office spaces, many of which are now designed with health, safety and environmental considerations in mind. For example, a 2019 study found that spending at least 120 minutes a week in contact with nature was associated with good health, leading many businesses to try to incorporate more outings or natural settings into their work environments.
And while many may believe that ESG solutions are expensive and provide little added benefit, businesses can achieve a healthier workplace by implementing simple steps that don’t have to be costly:
• Focus on the built environment: Make sure workplace operations support a healthy and safe environment, with good ventilation, access to fresh air and sustainability policies.
• Education: Companies can consider offering educational assistance, such as support for external training or certification courses. They can also offer retraining and reskilling programs for those workers who return to work after an absence—for example, unpaid leave.
• Social engagement and community building: Set up affinity groups that employees can join to share experiences and best practices. Volunteer together. Set up programs to engage with local community programs and give back.
• Incentivize environmental engagement: Give employees vouchers or discounts from their favorite brands in return for, for example, planting trees, cleaning parks or beaches or donating to environmental causes.
By embracing employee health and wellness as a pivotal factor of their ESG strategies and viewing the two as intertwined, organizations can create a more resilient, productive and innovative workforce that is well positioned for the future. They can also boost their bottom line while helping make the world a better, and safer, place to live. And that’s a win-win.