Looking to recruit millennials? Frankly, you don’t have much choice. Millennials are now the biggest generation in the American workforce, which means attracting this elusive demographic is becoming essential. Contrary to popular wisdom, young people are not holding out for offers at offices with ping pong tables, yoga, or sleep pods. Free snacks, bring-your-dog-to-work days and beanbag chairs in the break room are fun, sure, but hardly deal-closers. As it turns out, it’s not even the highest compensation package that entices young people to your workplace (although of course, compensation will always be an important part of the hiring conversation. And you should toss in a few healthy snacks, but I digress).
So what are they looking for? Purpose. Get this: 76 percent of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. An even greater number (88 percent) say their job is more fulfilling when it includes clear positive social or environmental impacts. And incredibly, 75 percent of millennials say they would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company (This is even more incredible when you consider how rattled this age grouping is by college debt and how much a paycheck could make a difference).
Now, admittedly those numbers likely skew a little high. It’s one thing to say that you’ll take a pay cut to work for a socially conscious organization, and another to actually follow through. But even if you cut that 75 percent in half, and then half again, it still means that nearly 20% of millennials will choose an organization making an impact over the one that offers a higher pay check. That’s 1 in 5 — a significant number, considering that most HR departments don’t typically offer more than the traditional pay and benefits package.
With millennials projected to make up three quarters of the global workforce by 2025, companies will need to make social impact a priority, too, if they hope to attract top talent.
So what can you do make purpose part of your company’s DNA?
1. Ditch the CSR department
It’s time to rid ourselves of old-school “corporate social responsibility.” Until very recently, giving back was typically siloed in a single, often sparsely staffed and resourced “CSR” department, even in the world’s largest companies. Not only were the impacts of such departments relatively small, but they also failed to engage the vast majority of the company.
Your corporate social mission should be engrained into your culture, something to inspire and engage the whole team, from your sales staff to your IT support and your accounting department. At the UK giant Virgin, the leadership team has actually banned the term CSR altogether for precisely this reason. Instead, each department across the company is responsible for social impact.
2. Let your staff manage up
In a bygone era, corporate philanthropy was a pet project. The CEO or their spouse loved opera or had a soft spot for endangered whales. But these causes were typically disconnected from the rest of the staff and did nothing to instill purpose within the company’s broader mission.
Selecting a cause to support shouldn’t be a top-down process. Instead, empower your employees to lead the conversation. Hold open nominations for charity partnerships and encourage staff to submit causes close to their heart.
3. Get out of office
Don’t be afraid to take your company’s purpose project on a field trip. If you support a local homelessness organization, carve out time for your staff to serve meals at that shelter. If you organize a food drive, arrange for your team to deliver your haul to a local food bank. Let your team see the impact of their work. Hands-on volunteering experiences are also terrific for team building.
Disney’s VoluntEARS program is a terrific model for employee engagement outside the office. Each year, Disney encourages their staff to volunteer with local causes, leveraging their unique skills. To date, they’ve volunteered over 10 million hours globally.
These ideas are just a starting point. For managers, there are endless approaches to integrating purpose into your organization’s everyday operations. An even if you’re not leading a company, you can still launch a smaller initiative on your team, or bring a social impact proposal to your boss. As purpose hits the mainstream, take this opportunity to lead the charge.