Engage Millennials with a Culture of Philanthropy

engage-millennialsToday’s Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are often stereotyped as entitled with a sense of narcissism. But those tech-savvy young adults between the ages of 20 and 35 are also thought to be more civic-minded than generations past, with a strong sense of community, both local and global. It’s important for companies to attract and engage this generation of future business leaders. One way to do this is through fostering a culture of philanthropy in the workplace.

Research shows it’s important to Millennials that they work for a company with a broader mission to help the community at large, rather than just generating paychecks. The nonprofit Net Impact polled 1,726 college students and new graduates last year and found that 53% of young workers said that “a job where I can make an impact” was important to their happiness, and 72% of students about to enter the workforce agreed. More importantly is that with all other things being equal, 58% of Millennials would take a 15% pay cut to achieve this goal.

Another study by 2012 Millennial Impact Report indicates that 63% of Millennials volunteered for a nonprofit in 2011 and 90% of survey respondents said they expected to volunteer as much or even more in the following year. Since volunteering is very much a part of the Millennial lifestyle, companies would be wise to include corporate philanthropy when developing a strategy for employee engagement.

Workplace giving and volunteering activities help employees invest in their work. Instead of being a cog in the wheel, they are individuals who help their company make a difference in the community.

There are four key areas that philanthropic activities help build employee engagement:

  1. Productivity: Engagement increases productivity.
  2. Ethics: Employees who are involved in altruistic endeavors are likely to make ethical decisions.
  3. Gratitude: Employees are grateful when employers provide opportunities to allow them to give back to the community.
  4. Pride: When an employee is proud of their work, they are proud of their company.

One way companies have found success in attracting Millennials is by offering Volunteer Paid Time Off (VPTO) as an incentive. Employees are given time off to volunteer during work hours. U.S. Bank employees can draw up to 16 hours of pay per year for activities like serving breakfast to the homeless or reading to kids. Business leaders are finding that it costs less to let employees volunteer on the clock than it would to replace them if they quit.

IBM takes this program a step further. They send select employees on month-long volunteer assignments to developing countries. Often called a “corporate version” of the Peace Corps, IBM’s Corporate Service Corps consist of 500 employees chosen from a pool of thousands. The projects, each valued at $250,000, create significant value for the countries receiving aid, but also produce more skilled, collaborative, loyal, and culturally aware employees for IBM. In addition, IBM identifies new emerging markets and global leaders in a different type of market research.

Companies who want to recruit Millennials need to offer perks like attractive employee engagement programs in order to stay relevant and competitive. By developing a culture of philanthropy in the workplace, you’ll attract socially conscious Millennials, who could help your business become even better as they become your company’s next generation of leaders.

For more ideas on how to engage your employees and attract future workers, download our free resource The Essential Guide to Employee Engagement.

FrontStream Holdings LLC is a registered ISO of Elavon, Inc. Georgia, Chase Paymentech Solutions, LLC, First National Bank of Omaha, Omaha, NE, BMO Harris Bank, N.A., Chicago, IL, Deutsche Bank, USA, New York, NY and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Walnut Creek, CA.