Leadership and career

How to Create a Social Responsibility Program that Helps Retain Millennial Employees

By February 1, 2017 No Comments

It’s clear that millennials will have a huge impact on tomorrow’s businesses.

This generation represents $2.45 trillion in spending power, reports Adweek, and according to Omnicom Group’s Cone Communications, 70 percent of them will spend more on brands that support causes they care about.

Millennials want to take part in changing the world, and they expect the companies they work for to do the same.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs in which companies donate time, talent and treasure, are a checkbox for most millennials. Savvy organizations realize that the right CSR programs help the community and support key business goals.

For many companies, attracting and retaining staff — including millennials — is a critical business goal. To keep millennials, a strong CSR program can be your secret weapon. Here are three tips to make your program a success.

  1. Make it easy to get involved right away

Millennials want to engage in making a difference from the start. They expect simplicity and fast results. This on-demand mentality shapes everything organizations do, including how they approach CSR.

I spoke with Burt Cummings, CEO of Versaic, a software provider for corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. He has seen the trend for on-demand programs emerge in corporate philanthropy, too. Burt’s company works with well-known brands, such as Quicken Loans, where millennials make up more than 50 percent of staff.

Headquartered in Detroit, Quicken makes it easy for employees to get involved in the cities they serve from the get-go. The company provides employees with opportunities to use their time and talent to make a positive difference in their communities through individual, team and companywide activities.

  1. Measure the impact

Millennial employees want to hear about how their company’s programs are changing the world. In your own CSR program, can you quantify the impact your contributions are making? Do you know how many lives are improved and exactly how your company is making a difference? Answering these questions makes it possible for you to manage and communicate your philanthropic impact.

Online tools provide more ways than ever to track the impact of your CSR programs. Quicken tracks all the details of its giving programs so executives can gauge their impact not only on the community, but against key business goals. According to Cummings, impact reporting facilitates that “aha moment” and helps corporations get beyond raw numbers to understand and communicate their true philanthropic footprint, something that’s especially important to millennials.

  1. Focus on authenticity

To engage, millennials assess the authenticity of their CSR program. Brands that win millennials are authentic in their mission, listen to employees and engage in the causes they care about.

Lee Caraher is author of Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making It Work at Work and an expert on this generation. She recognizes the importance of having a CSR program that supports millennial employees in their own philanthropic interests. This is often done through volunteer time, matching funds or access to the company’s facilities.

The most engaging programs organize team and company action days and events. For millennials, these programs are incredibly important to job satisfaction.

JetBlue is a company that gets it right when it comes to engaging employees and building loyalty. The company has a mission to “inspire humanity — both in the air and on the ground.”

Community Connection, a JetBlue volunteer program, is designed to align corporate giving with the individual passions of JetBlue crew members. For every 25 hours of service logged, crew members earn the opportunity to donate a return flight to a charity of their choice. The program fosters deeper engagement with all employees because they have a direct impact on company giving.

According to Harry Spencer, Vice President of Compensation, Benefits and Corporate Social Responsibility at JetBlue, “Since we’ve aligned the objectives of our corporate social responsibility platform and our people department, we’ve seen a tremendous surge of involvement and enthusiasm from our crew members.”

Millennials are expected to make up 50 percent of the workforce by 2020. By building a genuine CSR program designed with your employee interests in mind and tied to your business goals, it will be easier to recruit top talent – and you’ll be more successful earning their loyalty once they’re on board.


Dana_ManciagliDana Manciagli is a career expert, speaker and consultant. She has spent more than 30 years as a Fortune 500 sales and marketing executive and is now retired after more than a decade at Microsoft. Dana is the author of the book, “Cut the Crap, Get a Job!” and a prolific blogger. She sits on the worldwide board of Junior Achievement and has her MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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