Sep 14, 2021 - Economy

What young people want from their employers

Illustration of a crowd of workers marching towards a glowing briefcase.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Workers increasingly want their companies to think bigger than profits and speak up on social issues — and it's younger employees driving the trend.

The big picture: As the next generation enters the workforce, companies will have to devote even more time and resources to tackling issues like systemic racism, income inequality and climate change.

Driving the news: There isn't a single issue that stands out when young people are asked what they expect their employers to care about, according to a new Axios/Generation Lab poll of college students. The range of causes include:

  • 17% say companies need to pay most attention to racial diversity and inclusion
  • 21% say climate change
  • 22% say better pay for low-wage workers
  • 16% say reskilling or upskilling
  • 20% say better health care and child care benefits.

Overall, 68% say companies should take public stances on social issues and another 16% go as far as to say they wouldn't work for a company that doesn't.

  • "There is no silver bullet for companies," says Cyrus Beschloss, founder of Generation Lab.

The bottom line: Companies will have to broaden their mission statements as the war for talent is increasingly won on how firms respond to — and take action to remedy — societal issues.

Poll methodology: This survey was conducted Aug. 11–13 from a demographically representative sample of 846 students from two– and four–year schools.

Go deeper