Corporate and Employee Giving: Key to Attracting and Retaining Millennial Employees

Young Americans, so called millennials or Generation Y – born between 1980 and 2000, now in the 15 to 35 age group – are entering the workforce in high numbers and are poised to make up 75% of the US workforce by 2025. Millennials bring strong skill sets, innovative ideas and technical know-how, so employers have much to gain and must do all they can to attract, engage and retain this generation’s workforce. But while money continues to be a strong motivator, millennials heavily weigh other factors, such as corporate social responsibility and workplace flexibility, when making employment decisions, and tend to change jobs more often. Make no mistake, millennials are significantly different from the preceding workforce pool of Baby Boomers (aka Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1980). So employers need to adapt workplace environments to appeal to this generation and its new way of thinking.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that millennials place little value on job stability and typically change jobs every eighteen months. And by 2015, more than 60% of all jobs will require skills held by less than 20% of the population. Additionally, in a survey of 15,000 ‘Class of 2014’ graduates, most wanted jobs with companies that “make a difference in the world” and give employees quick feedback, workplace flexibility and opportunities to meaningfully contribute to society – with nearly three in four candidates willing to accept a lower salary with the right company, per CareerBuilder. So employers need to morph their workplace environments to engage and appeal to this new and different generation of workers.

One of the most effective ways to engage millennials is to provide a work culture that ties in with their values and provides opportunities to contribute beyond their job descriptions to make a positive impact on the world. Research from Forbes shows that 88 percent of millennials prefer a collaborative work culture over a competitive one. And an article titled “Employees Who Feel Love Perform Better” (published in the Harvard Business Review) found a substantial increase in performance in a nurturing workplace environment. If done right, corporate philanthropy/employee giving programs can boost worker happiness and productivity, and significantly boost revenue and corporate profits.

Simply stated, Generation Y workers engage more deeply with their jobs if they see value, and disconnect more quickly if they aren’t satisfied. So millennials, who respect and value their workplace, take pride in selling, marketing and supporting the company’s goods and services, and drive sales, innovation, productivity and customer satisfaction. Millennials are typically very active on social media and often post messages and images, such as from a corporate volunteering event, on social media, which helps generate positive corporate buzz and attract talent. So, in addition to boosting revenue and profits, a millennial-conducive work environment reduces turnover and lowers recruiting and HR expenses. On the flip side, millennials are also quick to criticize what they don’t like and both – their praise and criticism – spread like fire through social media. So, to gain upside and avoid downside, organizations must truly change to inherently appeal to this new generation.

Innovative Workplace Giving Programs – A Key Differentiator for Millennials

One of the ways employers can appeal to millennial workers is by developing an employee-focused corporate philanthropy program that is active and meaningful – with multiple offerings such as workplace giving, matching gifts, individual and team volunteering, Dollars for Doers, etc. – that encourages employees to easily engage with causes they most care about. Corporate philanthropy can no longer be a passive check-mark; it needs to be driven from the top, with active executive and management sponsorship and involvement, the latest technology to support impulse-driven web and mobile touch points and innovative payment options, extensive social media coverage for employee and brand recognition and strong word-of-mouth benefits, and more. Given the strategic importance of workplace giving, organizations would be well served by hiring corporate philanthropy specialists to come in and build cost-effective, technology-centric, millennial savvy programs.

As the hiring landscape becomes more competitive for qualified millennials, companies can set themselves apart as an employer of choice for this next generation of talent, with well-executed employee giving programs that happily also boost the bottom-line and corporate reputation.

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