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With the evident growth of CSR as an external-facing part of a company’s operation, we are seeing a shift to move the idea of responsible business, inwardly. However, is this change in direction purely due to shift in business fashion, or is it to appease the millennial generation? A recent study found that millennials looking for employment are just as, if not more, interested in a company’s social value impact, than they are about a company’s impressive profit margins or cutting-edge business plans. Moreover, research demonstrates that millennial consumers are even willing to pay more for products if they have been ethically-sourced with a provider that has an impressive CSR background. Having said this, there are two sides to the CSR millennial equations that need to be addressed.

 

Millennials and employment

With unemployment being at an all time low, employers are now having to look at new ways to attract the best talent in an increasingly competitive way. With studies showing that as of 2020, 50% of the working population will be within the millennial category, is it surprising that employers are intrinsically shifting work ethos and company values to a new direction. Data also shows that over 20% of Millennials change careers within 12 months. It is becoming clear that, from an HR perspective, engaging ‘the wants’ of a millenial generation, is going to become key in finding and retaining the best talent. But what does a millenial want from a workplace? A 2016 study showed that 51% of people would not work for a business that does not demonstrate strong social and environmental commitments, and 70% of employees say they would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to important issues. You can only imagine what these percentages will look like in 2020 and as such it has become self-evident as to why this is becoming a growing area of interest  for businesses today.

 

Millennials and community engagement

So how do we package this internal CSR strategy to attract millennial talent in terms of workplace benefits? A 2014 survey, found that 63% of Gen Y’ers donated to charities and 43% actively volunteer or are a member of a community organisation. Could it be a simple solution of incorporating what the next generation want to do in their spare time, and provide them to do this during their working time? The idea of a good and healthy work-life balance, for a career-hungry generation is becoming a thing of the past. But shifting your company’s values to be more benevolent and altruistic is one thing – putting this in action to show it’s not just a ‘botox face-lift’ is another. However, if we can incorporate a need for helping the community, and funnel this through a workplace scheme, employees may not only feel good about what they do, but feel better about who they work for. Companies are even taking this further with other options such as allowing employees to donate some of their pre-tax payroll, matching any fundraising achieved or even offering grants. With the age of transparency and the millennial generation being as tech-savvy as they are, companies are having to demonstrate that they are taking action and engaging with communities.

 

Two birds, one Stone?

It seems like a win-win, but is such a strategy is difficult to implement, especially for large organisations? Though the idea may seem a bit high in the sky, there are platform engines and third party providers who can help implement these schemes. What’s more attractive about this idea is its potential use of technology. Which generation gets a kick out of technology, if not Generation Y? You can use technology to not only reach out with millennials, but also to help manifest their altruistic nature while still being positively affiliated with your company. One of the new ways this is being done is to drive new employee engagement campaigns through the use of internal company apps. Employees can search for, apply to and engage with locals communities conveniently, all as part of their employment benefits.

There are increasing recommendations that companies need to create opportunities for their millennial employees to directly get involved with their CSR values. But also, to embrace with technology to help harvest the social platform element that the millennials are already so taken to.

Image from DigitalCommons@ILR

Even by incorporating any internal CSR drives more directly with such technology, you are allowing employees to engage with their core values and they can rest assured that these values are being put into action. All of these are great competitive advantages to put into your recruitment drives to get that competitive edge to help attract and retain the next generation of talent.

 

But does this strategy work? Simply put: Yes! A perfect example of corporation using this in action is Unilever. Being ranked as the 3rd most popular employer in the world, CEO Paul Polman is convinced this is because of their CSR and their links with employee engagement. So perhaps the next time you are thinking about how to engage with the millennial generation and secure the best talent for the future, have a look at what you offer to your employees in terms of community engagement.

 


Ludovic Williams

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