Millennials make up a large portion of the workforce today and it is without question that as a cohort, they care deeply about the environment and other social issues. Surveys have consistently shown that millennials prefer working for socially responsible companies and are even willing to take a pay cut to do so. It is clear that high salaries on their own are no longer enough to attract and retain the best talent and organisations need strategies that connect to values and purpose. . How can companies remain competitive in the job market?
There are many tactics to attract and retain millennials, from offering flexible working to implementing a more autonomous management style, but in this article, I will focus on appealing to their sense of social responsibility and concern for the environment. This is especially important to companies that operate in industries that may be seen as detrimental to the environment.
In Amcor, as the leading global packaging company, I was not surprised to see that almost every candidate we interview wants to understand what our sustainability agenda is. They feel deeply about the issue of plastic waste and want to understand what the company is doing about it. One of the things that have really helped Amcor attract top talent is the fact that sustainability is such an integral part of our business and thereby, integral to our employee value proposition (EVP).
In 2018, Amcor pledged to develop all our packaging to be recyclable or reusable by 2025 and we are on track to meet that commitment. This is no empty promise – sustainability presents our greatest business opportunity because consumers’ increasing demand for more sustainable products is reshaping the packaging industry. Plastic packaging provides the lowest carbon footprint of any packaging format and is the most environmentally responsible option for consumers. However, the issue of packaging waste is one that Amcor is taking head-on. We are providing the solution by making our packaging 100% recyclable and reusable.
"One of the things that have really helped Amcor attract top talent is the fact that sustainability is such an integral part of our business and thereby, integral to our employee value proposition (EVP)."
The year 2020 highlighted for many why there will always be a role for packaging: to keep food fresh longer, to enable broader distribution of medicines, and to keep healthcare equipment sterile. The answer – to keeping a growing global population fed, healthy, and safe – is responsible packaging.
At Amcor, we embrace our leadership position in the packaging industry and recognise that we have a responsibility to drive positive change. Sustainability is comprehensively embedded across Amcor’s business, from how we run our factories more efficiently to the steps we have taken to ensure responsible procurement and ethical practices across our supply chain. This means that everyone in Amcor, regardless of job function or location, has a part to play in driving our sustainability strategy.
This is what companies should offer, an opportunity to be part of the solution, to be able to affect change from the inside. What could have been negative for an employer is in fact a unique selling point that would attract passionate talent who want to make a difference; talent who are highly engaged and see value in the work they do.
It is pointless for a company to have values that are aligned with their employees if they don’t know about it. An interviewer needs to be able to articulate a company’s employee value proposition and how it is relevant to a candidate. A salesperson needs to communicate the benefits of a sustainable product to a customer. At Amcor, we rolled out a global education campaign on our sustainability strategy, organising training sessions, and train-the-trainer sessions that cascaded from the highest to the lowest levels of the organisation. It is an integral part of our onboarding process. We of course also keep our employees informed of the work we do with our sustainability partners like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation globally and the Green River in China.
A company needs to do more than just educate and inform the workforce, to ensure it is truly embedded in the company’s culture. Organisations need to be clear about having a meaningful vision but also come across as authentic to attract the millennial. Winning for the environment is part of “Being Amcor”. From an annual global coastal clean-up across our geographies to promoting recycling at our sites, sustainability is pervasive and touches all our employees. It is not just about our products, it’s how we behave.
Leaders play a crucial role in driving this. They not only need to clearly articulate the EVP in a way that is relevant to both the company as well as its people, they also must be seen walking the talk. There cannot be a disconnect between a company’s EVP and business strategy. What we say to our customers has to be the same as what we say to our employees. When our employees are aligned behind a common goal, we will have the best brand advocates and ambassadors we could hope for.
Having a clear EVP that aligns with the values of the socially and environmentally conscious millennial will clearly allow companies to attract and retain the best talent. The important thing, however, is to empower them to make a difference – to show that they can be part of the solution and can make a meaningful contribution - that they are working towards a greater good.