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As more and more millennials move into the workplace, it can be difficult for their employers to understand the mindset and needs of this new generation of talent. Millennials can often expect more opportunities for professional development and faster internal progression, things which sometimes simply aren’t feasible within a company’s existing structure.

This can lead to low retention rates, especially since millennials tend to feel lower levels of loyalty towards their employers.

However, it would be wrong to think of millennials as a selfish generation. They also tend to place higher importance on values, with many saying they would take a pay cut to work for a company they believe in. This means that for many companies corporate social responsibility strategies are key to attracting and retaining millennial talent. But did you know that many businesses also employ CSR as a way to meet their employees’ professional development needs? Read on to discover three businesses doing just that.

 

Developing Professional Skills

CSR is a great way to give millennial and early-career employees a boost in the skills they need to really flourish in their roles. By providing volunteering opportunities which draw on organisational skills and resources, companies can support employees in doing something good in the community and accessing opportunities which enable them to keep learning and growing.

Case study

Norton Rose Fullbright is an international law firm. Its London-based trainee solicitors have the opportunity to do voluntary work with local law centres, which allows them to give back to the community and sharpen their legal skills at the same time. The real world experience they gain is value added for the firm, whose trainees gain opportunities for professional development and a sense of fulfilment at the same time.

 

Living Up to Organisational Values

A CSR strategy which incorporates a strong organisational value system can really help bridge the gap between millennial employees’ professional aspirations and their value systems. Providing CSR opportunities with a direct link to organisational goals can help to reassure employees that they are developing skills which will enable them to keep making a difference as they move up in the company, rather than just for the duration of a volunteering project.

Case study

Johnson and Johnson, a global healthcare products company, works hard to ensure that all employees are served by and able to live up to its ‘credo’. Professional development opportunities the organisation offers as part of its CSR strategy include secondments with NGO partners and the chance to develop innovative solutions to community health care issues. The company also runs the One Young World program, which offers employees aged 18 to 30 to develop their leadership capacity within the healthcare sector and work on innovative solutions to contemporary problems.

 

Gaining Soft Skills

Some research has claimed that millennials new to the workplace can lack the soft skills needed to flourish and advance. This can lead to professional stagnation and frustration on the part of employees, which doesn’t help retention. Employee volunteering and CSR initiatives provide an opportunity to develop soft skills such as teamwork and creative thinking, which are essential to the faster internal advancement millennials value.

Case study

A 2015 article by FedEx UK HR manager Steve Wilkins discusses the emphasis his company places on employee volunteering and CSR engagement as a form of skills development. FedEx combines its CSR and learning and development strategies to ensure that volunteering enables early career employees to develop the soft skills needed to advance to management and leadership roles within the organisation. This, Wilkins says, has enormous benefits for employee retention.


Helen Bates

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