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Sustainability and Work Force Trends

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Delegates at the Events Industry Council spring meeting, whose members comprise the CEOs of more than 30 of the leading industry associations, were asked to identify trends shaping our industry. While the specific concerns going forward varied, what ultimately emerged were five key trends that event professionals should watch closely in the year ahead.

This article is the second part of a series on how sustainability relates to each of these trends. In this edition, we’ll focus on work force trends, and how sustainability can be an asset in attracting and retaining exceptional staff, the benefits of hiring people with disabilities, and how telecommuting can improve not only your carbon footprint, but also your employee engagement and productivity.

Sustainability and Staff Retention and Recruitment

People want to work for organizations with a positive social and environmental record, and this is particularly the case with millennials. In their 2016 Study on Millennial Employee Engagement, Cone Communications found:


  • 75% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to work for a responsible company (vs. 55% U.S. average)88% of millennials say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues (vs. 74% U.S. average)
  • 83% of millennials would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues (vs. 70% U.S. average)

  • 76% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work (vs. 58% U.S. average)
  • 64% of millennials won’t take a job from a company that doesn’t have strong CSR practices (vs. 51% U.S. average)


Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities

Actively recruiting people with disabilities has significant benefits for organizations. A 2007 study conducted by DePaul University and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity examined these benefits. Some of the most relevant findings for our industry include:


  • Participants with disabilities from the retail and hospitality sectors stayed on the job longer than participants without disabilities.
  • Across all sectors, participants with disabilities had fewer scheduled absences than those without disabilities.
  • Regardless of sector, participants with and without disabilities had nearly identical job performance ratings.


The Job Accommodation Network also reports the low costs and high benefits of hiring people with disabilities:

Employers reported that providing accommodations resulted in such benefits as retaining valuable employees, improving productivity and morale, reducing workers’ compensation and training costs, and improving company diversity.

?The employers in the study reported that a high percentage (59%) of accommodations cost absolutely nothing to make, while the rest typically cost only $500.

An additional national study on consumer attitudes also demonstrates the benefits:


  • 92% of consumers felt more favorable toward organizations that hire individuals with disabilities
  • 87% of consumers would prefer to give their business to companies that hire individuals with disabilities


Benefits of Telecommuting

Telecommuting has obvious environmental benefits by reducing carbon emissions, and it also has many business benefits. has compiled statistics on the potential bottom line impact of the widespread adoption of telework in the U.S. The findings, which assume that those with compatible jobs and a desire to work from home did so just half the time, the national savings would total over $700 billion a year including:


  • A typical business would save $11,000 per person per year
  • The telecommuters would save between $2,000 and $7,000 per year 
  • The greenhouse gas reduction would be the equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce permanently off the road


In terms of productivity, a study by Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business of a 16,000- employee, NASDAQ-listed Chinese travel agency found that home working led to a 13% performance increase, of which about 9% was from working more minutes per shift (fewer breaks and sick days) and 4% from more calls per minute (attributed to a quieter working environment).

Sustainability and the Work Force

In conclusion, human resources practices that encourage sustainability and inclusivity are important for attracting and retaining staff, for reducing costs and increasing revenues. A win for all!

Mariela McIlwraith, CMP, CMM, MBA
Director of Sustainability, Events Industry Council


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