Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… Recruit and Retain

Posted by Kurt Rakos on 4/22/22 8:45 AM
Kurt Rakos
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Yes, greener employers do attract more talent!

Earth Day 2022 SkyWater Search Partners

To be honest, when I started writing this April’s SkyWater blog in honor of Earth Day, I wasn’t planning to talk about recruiting. Every April, we write an Earth Day blog, and this year, I’d been inspired by an MPR podcast hosted by Angela Davis, about the growing landfill crisis in the Twin Cities. Here in the metro area, we produce 3.3 tons of trash each year, roughly one ton per Twin Cities family – so much waste that our local landfills have become overwhelmed.

I simply wanted to share some great ideas for workplace recycling to reduce waste in our landfills. Similar to our Earth Day Workplace Challenge from a few years ago. Those tips are below.

But in pulling them together, I was surprised to come across a number of fascinating, recent studies showing a link between employer environmental practices and candidate interest. Turns out, a strong environmental and recycling program is a key to more successful recruiting and employee retention.  A 2021 Deloitte study of millennials and Gen Zs, for example, found that almost half (49%) of 18-25 year-olds and 44% of 26-38 year-olds actually choose their employers based on their own, personal ethics, with climate change the number one concern for Gen Zs (and third-highest for millennials).

It’s a strong validation of what we’re hearing from today’s talent: salary, title, and career path just aren’t enough anymore. Increasingly, candidates are strongly motivated to work for employers whose mission and behaviors match their own, personal values. They actively seek out these employers, stick with them, and, according to Deloitte, “shun companies and employers” who don’t measure up.

In today’s extremely competitive labor market, going green gives employers a real hiring and retention advantage. Here are some high impact tips for building more climate-friendly habits within your company:

Rethink your office recycling. (A lot of us have been doing it wrong.)

According to Eric Roper with Star Tribune, a lot of us have been guilty of “wish-cycling,” the hopeful but wrong-headed habit of throwing questionable items into the recycling bin. This seemingly harmless act actually causes greater difficulty for recycling groups and often leads to increased (One example: never toss plastic bags in recycling.) Set up recycling bins and make sure they’re clearly labeled with the do’s and don’t’s. Hennepin County provides easy guidance for setting up recycling in your offices. They also keep updated lists of recyclable and non-recyclable materials and post the most up-to-date lists in front of your office bins. 

Ditch the disposable drinkware.

According to Roadrunner Recycling, the average pre-pandemic American workplace added 500 disposable coffee cups to our landfills every single year – per office worker. Here at SkyWater, we no longer provide plastic bottled water or serve beverages in disposable containers. It’s a change that everyone here has embraced Encourage everyone to bring their own reusable water bottles and coffee mugs. If you have a kitchen area, consider providing washable glasses and mugs and an easy way for employees to keep them clean.

Add compost to your recycling practices.

When we collect and dispose of compostable materials properly, we improve the efficiencies of our recycling and trash practices. But more importantly, we actually contribute to crop production, land preservation, and even more environmentally friendly power production. When you compost food waste, you’re helping. With a composting bin next to your recycling bin, you can collect coffee grounds and tea bags, food scraps, and compostable plates and cutlery.  

Set goals, measure progress, and report consistently.

It’s one thing to order some bins and sign a contract with someone who will empty them regularly. It’s another thing to turn those bins into a rallying cry around an environmental commitment. Make a plan, stick with it, and always reference your environmental activities when celebrating company successes.

Integrate your commitment with your employer branding. Then promote it.

Show potential new hires that you’re serious about your environment and invested in continuing to make positive change.

If you would like to know more about how you can leverage your employer brand to attract and retain the best candidates for your organization, please reach out. We would love to talk!



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Topics: Human Resources, Workplace Culture, Retention, Community Involvement, Earth Day