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Attracting Gen Z: Why Social Responsibility Matters

If you want to recruit and retain Gen Z employees, check your corporate values. Recent research shows that Gen Z workers have a strong preference for employers that operate as a force for good.

Admittedly, many businesses already have some form of corporate social responsibility (CSR) program in place. Many have also made some effort to operate more sustainably. But for a variety of good reasons, it may make sense to double down on those efforts.

After all, Gen Z—those diverse, digitally-savvy natives born in and after 1997—is projected to comprise 30% of the workforce by 2030.

Beyond serving their community and environment, businesses that pursue CSR initiatives benefit, too—by attracting and inspiring young, like-minded employees. 

Fewer Years, Higher Standards

Most American workers want to work for companies with demonstrated social and environmental values. However, according to the recent Bentley-Gallup Force for Good Study, it’s an even greater priority for Gen Z workers and jobseekers.

Case in point: 71% of survey respondents between the ages 18-29 say that they would leave their employer for one that created a more positive social impact—as opposed to 62% of respondents between the ages of 30-44 and 55% of all 5,700+ respondents.

In addition, 77% of the youngest respondents say that it is “extremely important” for companies to operate in an environmentally-sustainable way—which is at least 10 to 20 points higher than workers in other age groups.

In fact, Deloitte’s most recent survey of the Gen Z and Millennial mindset reveals that nearly two in five respondents turned down a job or assignment because it was inconsistent with their values. In contrast, those who are satisfied with their employers’ CSR efforts say they are more likely to want to stay with their employers for more than five years.

The Force for Good study also found that Gen Z respondents are significantly less likely than their older counterparts to evaluate their employers as performing well, CSR-wise. Their standards are higher, and they want to see results. 

Prizing Both Purpose and Profits

The Center for Generational Kinetics annual study confirms that social causes and protecting the environment ranks high on the Gen Z priority list year after year.

However, the study also reveals that Gen Z is also sensitive to earnings—specifically, that starting salary is their most important factor when weighing job opportunities. As a generation that has seen its share of instability—the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine War, inflation—this is not surprising.

The bottom line: employers that wish to attract—and retain—Gen Z workers must offer competitive salaries and have a compelling CSR story to tell. 

6 Ways to Up Your CSR Quotient 

Even undertaking modest social and environmental improvements can make a difference, to your community and carbon footprint, as well as your workforce. For example, you might:

  1. Start “greening” your office, by banning single-use plastic products, expanding remote and hybrid work options, and developing a sustainability policy.
  2. Offer sustainable-focused benefits, such as stipends for employees who use public transportation or purchase electric vehicles.
  3. Sponsor paid volunteer days, encouraging employees to support the causes near and dear to their hearts.
  4. Take a stance on pressing social issues that impact your workforce personally.
  5. Create an environment where employees can safely discuss controversial news and issues—in a safe, respectful, non-political manner.
  6. Last but not least, invite your employees to help shape your organization’s charitable endeavors.

Most employees would like a greater voice in their organizations, and in this regard, Gen Z leads the pack. Empowering employees to act on their convictions is a powerful way to improve engagement and forge stronger relationships—while proving you do indeed share the same values.

For more strategies on recruiting and retaining the next generation of workers, read our blog, Recruiting Gen Z? Offer These Benefits.

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