Cooperative Insights: Research Illuminates Young Adult Preferences for Employment, Communications

Shared values with employers and work-life balance are two attributes important to young adults when considering employment, according to new research from Cooperative Insights. The research also covered communications preferences of the respondents, aged 18-35, who shared opinions via an online co-op member forum.

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Among those surveyed, 94% responded that it was important or very important that their employer’s values and goals align with their values and goals. Eight out of 10 participants indicated some likelihood of leaving or not taking a job based if the organization’s values did not align with their own.

“As not-for-profit organizations that are committed to powering a Brighter Future, electric cooperatives have a wonderful story to tell with employees and potential employees seeking alignment with values,” said Ying Chen, member insights manager for Cooperative Insights. “Culture, flexibility and clear lines of communication were also areas of importance to participants when considering their employer.”

Approximately 90% indicated that workplace format – remote, in person or hybrid – was important to them when considering a job.

When asked about communications preferences, approximately 9 out of 10 participants reported actively using social media. Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook were the most utilized platforms, but the majority of respondents did not follow their energy provider. When asked what kind of content energy providers should post, suggestions included general tips and information about new programs and rates from their utility, examples of community engagement that reflect the company’s core values, sustainability actions and outage updates. Supporting community and giving back to the local community were rated as important actions for utilities to take by 72% of participants.

“Increasing social media posts regarding this information could push some young adults to be more likely to connect with their energy provider,” said Chen.

Nearly 50% of participants recalled receiving communications or advertisements from their energy provider through email, with mail or brochure being the second-most remembered outreach method at 30%. Twenty percent of participants were not aware of the last time they received communications or advertisements from their energy provider.

When asked which communications channels are preferred for receiving information about programs and tips for saving energy, nearly 50% of participants indicated that email would be the most effective, followed by text messaging at 20%.

“This indicates the importance of having up-to-date emails and phone numbers as these methods are the most effective forms of communications for young adults,” said Chen.

Nearly half of the participants indicated that their most trusted resource for information about managing their energy costs was the internet. Only about 1 in 4 turned to their energy provider the last time they had questions about energy costs.

“This is a good indication to energy providers to have FAQs readily available on their website,” said Chen.

Cooperative Insights conducted the research as a co-op member forum using an emerging research methodology that gathers participants to interact with materials and each other online. Co-op member forums provide qualitative information that illustrates in detail how people think and respond.

Sign up for a co-op member forum in 2023 by contacting