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To retain young workers, take responsibility for society

It is no coincidence that so many young people today expect to switch jobs within a few years and that their belief in the ethical behaviour of businesses is currently plummeting, experts note. According to Microsoft, the key to retaining the new generation of workers is to prioritise social responsibility.
Young employees expect their future workplaces to take responsibility for society.

Publiceret: 07.06.2018
Af Oliver Fruergaard mail

In the future, it will be the businesses that take responsibility for society that are able to retain employees. This is the main takeaway from a survey published in early May which showed that millennials around the world have lost faith in the private sector.

Deloitte’s annual millennial survey revealed that less than half of the world’s millennials – people born between 1983-1994 – believe that businesses behave ethically. Meanwhile, 43% expect to leave their current jobs within the next two years.

According to professor of corporate philosophy at Roskilde University Jacob Dahl Rendtorff, the lack of trust and low loyalty are connected. His research focuses on the ethics and responsibility of businesses, and he points to the environment, social inequality and poor working conditions as some of the social aspects that have become more important to young people when looking for jobs in the private sector.

“Today young people will move on to the next job if they cannot find greater meaning and a broader societal perspective in the work they do,” says Jacob Rendtorff.

See also: Exit foreign workers will cost Denmark DKK 19.5 billion

A generation that seeks identity through work

Kinga Szabo Christensen, Director of Management Development and Productivity at the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI), agrees.

The younger generation increasingly seeks identity through work, she says. Potential employers must therefore line up with their personal values.

She adds, however, that this wider societal perspective has become more important for the workforce in general – not only for young people.

“We have all become more aware of the fact that we are accountable for our work. Very few of us are able to clock in, do something that conflicts with our personal beliefs and values, clock back out and not have a problem with that,” says Kinga Szabo Christensen.

Professor Jacob Dahl Rendtorff believes that many businesses are today paying the price for having neglected social aspects in their hunt for profit.

“These businesses have failed to take sufficient responsibility for the environment and wider society, among other things. Millennials feel that the economic system that businesses have been a part of is in many ways bankrupt in relation to the things that matter to them,” he says.

See also: Difficilty of finding friends cost Denmark attractive foreign workers

CSR helps Microsoft retains employees

For tech giant Microsoft, there is no question that the new generation has brought new demands for the company.

The younger generation is “less focused on job security and more focused on beliefs and values,” says HR Lead Camilla Hillerup.

She believes that Microsoft’s CSR profile is a big part of why the firm – in contrast to many others – does not have difficulty attracting younger employees. The opportunity to do good is something that appeals to millennials.

“Telling people about our social responsibility is absolutely central for us. And I am certain that the responsibility we take on helps us attract and retain our young employees. For young people today, it is crucial that their employer addresses the interests of wider society, and they want to personally have a sense of making a difference,” says Camilla Hillerup.

She points out that this is why younger employees are increasingly taking part in Microsoft’s many volunteer initiatives, for example. Another initiative that has been well received among millennials is the firm’s focus in recent years on bringing ethics into the development of AI.

“Initiatives like these give them a sense of being part of a firm that prioritises ethics and the wider society in its work,” says Camilla Hillerup.

See also: Danish companies on global hunt for talent

DI: CSR is good for business

According to Kinga Szabo Christensen, DI, firms must be open to the young workers who wish to bring a wider societal perspective into the business – but not only because it helps them retain workers.

A responsible approach to the environment and society will be a condition for running a successful business in the future, she believes.

“We simply won’t have the same resources in 5, 6 or 10 years as we do today. If you aren’t doing work in the interest of society, then your business model is going to face challenges,” says Kinga Szabo Christensen.

In connection with the survey, Anders Dons, Nordic CEO of Deloitte, emphasised that in order to retain talented workers, businesses must read the signals sent by millennials.

THE DELOITTE MILLENNIAL SURVEY 2018
The findings of the millennial survey are based on the views of 10,500 workers between the ages 24-34 from all over the world. Of these, 400 come from the Nordic region.

47% do not think businesses behave ethically (versus 65% last year).
47% believe that businesses are committed to helping improve society (versus 56% last year).
63% believe that businesses are solely focused on profits (versus 50% last year).
75% believe that businesses focus on their own agendas rather than considering society in general (versus 59% last year).

For young people today, it is crucial that their employer addresses the interests of wider society.
HR LEAD CAMILLA HILLERUP, MICROSOFT DENMARK
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PUBLISHED: 6/7/2018 LAST MODIFIED: 6/7/2018