Engaging Millennials in the Workplace

Categories: Management

By Katrina Saucier | April 26, 2021 << Back to Articles Engaging Millennials in the Workplace

Millennials are on the cusp of outnumbering baby boomers to become the nation’s most significant living—and working—adult generation, according to projections by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Millennials, who were between the ages of 20 and 35 in 2016, now number about 71 million.

By comparison, baby boomers, aged 52 to 70 in 2016, number approximately 74 million. As the number of millennials increases via migration and the number of boomers declines, millennials are poised to become America’s largest age group, either this year or very soon. (See sidebar: Age Groups)

Millennials have different values and character traits, not only compared to older boomers, but also those identified in the group Generation X, people aged 36 to 51 in 2016. Because of this, business owners in the professional cleaning industry, property developers, and facility managers are taking note. They are making changes to their facilities and the way they operate, to accommodate this new workforce. Millennials are concerned about the types of organizations they work for and the types of facilities they will work in.

Two of the key differences between millennials and older generations are that millennials are: (1) much more sustainability-focused and, (2) much more tech-savvy. Older generations of workers were not confronted with many of the environmental concerns today’s younger generations face. Turn back the clock just 20 years and you see technology played a far smaller role in our daily lives than now.

“One of the characteristics of millennials, besides the fact that they are masters of digital communication, is that they are primed to do well by doing good,” says Leigh Buchanan, editor-at-large for Inc. magazine who is quoted in the book The Multigenerational Sales Team. 

Related to this, a 2016 survey by Cone Communications, a firm that focuses on social and environmental issues, uncovered the following about millennials:

  • 64% consider a company’s social and environmental commitments before deciding to work for an organization.
  • 64% will not work for an organization that does not have strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) values.
  • About 70% of all workers in the United States say they would be more loyal to a company if it were socially and environmentally focused; this number jumps to 83% for millennials.
  • Finally, 88% say they find their jobs more fulfilling if their employers allow them to make a positive impact on the environment in the workplace.

Connecting environmental concerns with technology

Because this younger workforce is both environmentally focused and tech-savvy, some jansan business owners, as well as property managers, are looking into initiatives that can connect the dots, show the steps that their organization is taking to become greener and more sustainable, and using technology to do it. One way to do this is by taking sustainability dashboard systems, now offered by many vendors and used by many facility managers, and displaying the information they provide on television monitors placed in strategic locations throughout the building. These dashboards typically measure building consumption of fuel, energy, and water, as well as the amount of greenhouse gas released. The goal with these systems is engagement. They are designed to help building users, visitors, customers, vendors, and others in a facility realize and relate to the sustainability successes of a facility. However, sustainability data is typically presented in numbers, more challenging for people to absorb and understand. For example, a typical facility may have the following statistics at hand:

  • Energy consumption in the building has been reduced from 97.2 British thermal units (BTUs) to 90.2 BTUs in the past five years.
  • 3.5 million gallons of water was consumed in the building in 2018; in 2015 we consumed 4.6 million gallons annually.
  • Today, the facility emits 201 MT of carbon dioxide due to energy, waste and fuel consumption. In 2015, we emitted 304 MT of carbon dioxide due to energy, waste, and fuel consumption.

While this information may be interesting to building managers, it is not as effective at engaging building users. Because of this, some systems have turned this data around, presented more tangibly so that millennials and others can engage with and relate to it. For instance:

  • Since 2016, the facility now saves enough energy to power 140 homes.
  • In the past three years, we have reduced water consumption enough to fill 247 in-ground swimming pools.
  • Compared to our baseline year of 2015, our avoided carbon pollution is equivalent to planting 392 trees.

Millennials and others can now see exactly how a building is performing when it comes to environmental issues. Putting this information on display helps create a “culture of sustainability” throughout the facility.

About the Author.

Katrina Saucier is program manager for Sustainability Dashboard Tools LLC, which measures, monitors, and reports sustainability information for building owners, managers, and users. She has also worked with ISSA distributors involved in ISSA’s Distributor Efficiency Analytics & Learning (DEAL) program. She can be reached at [email protected]