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Mary Mazzoni headshot

3p Weekend: 5 Things Employers Need to Know About Millennials

By Mary Mazzoni

Want to learn more? Join TriplePundit, SAP and our special guests at #SAPsocent on October 23 at 9 a.m. PST / Noon EST for a special Twitter Chat about millennials and social entrepreneurship. Click here for more info.

With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.

According to a study conducted in 2012 by leadership strategist Erica Dhawan75 percent of the global workforce will be made up of millennials by 2025. We all know millennials love their smartphones and are more likely to shun car-centric suburban life in favor of big cities -- but those aren't the only things that make this generation tick.

If employers are looking to attract and retain top talent, they'd be wise to learn these five things about millennials.

1. They're looking for purpose, not just a paycheck ...

A recent PwC study found that more than half of recent college graduates are seeking a company that has corporate social responsibility (CSR) values that align with their own, and 56 percent would consider leaving a company that didn’t have the values they expected. As Andy Savitz, author of “Talent, Transformation and the Triple Bottom Line,” put it in a panel discussion at the 2014 Sustainable Brands conference: “They’re looking for purpose, not just a paycheck.”

2. ... And they're willing to take a pay cut for a company they believe in

According to a survey conducted by Net Impact, the majority of millennial respondents (including students and young professionals) said they would take a pay cut to work for a company they believe in. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they would take a 15 percent pay cut to work for a company committed to CSR; 45 percent would take the same pay cut for a job that makes social or environmental impact, and a whopping 58 percent were willing to earn less for an organization with values like their own.

3. They have their eye on your sustainability performance ...

Cloud-based engagement platform WeSpire (formerly known as Practically Green) recently released the results of a five-year research study that shows the influence millennials have in organizations stepping up their employee engagement action. According to the study, more than 50 percent of employees would like to see their employer’s stance change on employee sustainability efforts, with millennials leading all age groups.

As Susan Hunt Stevens, founder and CEO of WeSpire, told TriplePundit in a recent interview: “People are realizing that these are not ‘nice-to-have’ programs. They drive the bottom line and the top line of business.”

4. ... And that of their coworkers

Another intriguing findings from WeSpire’s “State of Employee Engagement” study is how interested millennials are in the sustainability activities of not just their company, but also their colleagues.

“Employees see sustainability as social,” the report’s authors write. In fact, 65 percent of respondents said they want to learn more about what their co-workers are doing. This finding persists throughout nearly all age groups — from millennials to Baby Boomers — but is much stronger in the millennial generation, as high as 75 percent.

5. They're kind of a tough sell, so be ready

As Nicolette Van Exel, who heads up SAP's Emerging Entrepreneur Initiative, put it in a recent interview with 3p: "You really have to have a very, very compelling proposition for people coming into the workforce and especially in the technology sectors.”

Adam “Smiley” Poswolsky, author of "The Quarter-Life Breakthrough," agreed. “This is a generation that wants to align interest with purpose,” said Poswolsky, who noted that it’s also “a generation that thinks deeply” about what they want out of life.

So, if you're trying to land top talent, you better be ready with a pitch about how your company benefits not only employees -- but also your community and the planet. As Poswolsky put it, “they are going to work harder for you,” if they are happy.

Image credit: Flickr/thetaxhaven

Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is a senior editor at TriplePundit. She is also a freelance journalist who frequently writes about sustainability, corporate social responsibility and clean tech. Her work has appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News, the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands, Earth911 and the Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.

Mary Mazzoni headshot

Mary has reported on sustainability and social impact for over a decade and now serves as executive editor of TriplePundit. She is also the general manager of TriplePundit's Brand Studio, which has worked with dozens of organizations on sustainability storytelling, and VP of content for TriplePundit's parent company 3BL. 

Read more stories by Mary Mazzoni