The Business Case for Employee Volunteering - Case #2
Many companies have employee volunteer programs, but for many companies in Europe, Canada and the US these programs are underfunded, underdeveloped and underutilized. This blog series is meant to offer a number of compelling reasons why your business needs to invest (a bit more) in employee volunteering.
Finding New Talent
“Firms are also facing strong demand for CSR from their employees, so much so that it has become a serious part of the competition for talent. Ask almost any large company about the business rationale for its CSR efforts and you will be told that they help to motivate, attract and retain staff." (Read the full Economist article here.)
“People want to work at a company where they share the values and the ethos.”
- Mike Kelly, head of CSR, KPMG Europe
Companies in the process of recruiting new talent from college campuses already know that millennials have a unique perspective on employment. (If you’re the one charged with interviewing them, be prepared; you may be surprised by an odd sense of being interviewed yourself.) Recruiters are also discovering that the criteria they are being assessed against are not what many businesses are traditionally prepared for. Rather than salary and benefit packages, millennials are asking about a company’s corporate social responsibility. In fact, nearly 50% of interviewees from the millennial generation will raise the issue of CSR during the interview or hiring process with a potential for-profit employer.
According to the 8th Annual DeloitteVolunteer IMPACT Survey, more than half (61 percent) of the millennials surveyed said that they are likely to factor a company’s commitment to the community into their decision if choosing between two jobs with the same location, responsibilities and pay and benefits. Surprisingly, that was true even among those millennials surveyed who rarely or never volunteer.
But this isn’t recent news - In a 2007 survey of 2,418 students in 53 undergraduate programs in the U.S. and Canada conducted by Net Impact, it was discovered that 77% of respondents planned to seek socially responsible work immediately upon graduation. In the follow-up 2010 study, that number jumps up to 84% of undergraduates intending to seek out a socially responsible workplace.
Engaging New Talent
It’s one thing to find that hot new talent, it’s quite another to engage them. Your company may have a great CSR program. But millennials need to be able to actively participate in the process of being a good corporate citizen in order to tap into all that potential.
The same Deloitte Volunteer IMPACTSurvey revealed that - compared to those who rarely or never volunteer - millennials who frequently participate in their company’s employee volunteer activities are:
Affording New Talent
Now here’s some interesting news: Millennials are so committed to improving the world, and working with companies that share their passions, they are willing to work for less pay to do so. Students graduating with master’s degrees in business administration at 11 top business schools value corporate responsibility so highly, that when evaluating potential employers “graduates are willing to sacrifice an average of 14.4 percent of their expected salaries to work at socially responsible companies.” (Read the full article here.)
- David Montgomery, Stanford Graduate School of Business and Catherine Ramus, University of California at Santa Barbara.
Knowing this, companies like PwC have built recruitment strategies around community service projects and volunteering. Last year, PwC launched a partnership with Operation HOPE to teach financial literacy and empowerment. The Five Million Kids Initiative (5MK) would require PwC to commit it’s 525 intern volunteers to work on some of the toughest high school campuses across the country. (But then a gang fight broke out at the recent programs and some executives wondered if things had gone too far - you can read the whole story here).
It’s a New World
The expectations of millennials must be met by companies if they hope to attract, engage and afford the best and brightest of the next generation of employees. Millennials are unlike the previous generations of employees (Boomers, for example) whose interest in making a positive contribution to society is defined by philanthropy or charity - they don't necessarily expect it to be integrated with work. The "boomer" will traditionally volunteer on his/her own time and will view financial donations to a cause as a personal affair.
The new generation expects integration. A full 88% believe that businesses should be proactively addressing social concerns and environmental issues. They are unwilling to relegate concerns for a more sustainable planet to their free time and they believe that waiting to do good until retirement is unnecessary. The issues of climate change, hunger, war, education must be addressed today - or there may not be a tomorrow.
But very few (only 37%) believe companies are working towards this better society today. Millennials intend to change that reality by becoming champions of change within society and the workplace - and they believe companies should work with them to do so. A robust employee volunteering program provides millennials with an immediate and tangible opportunity to experience the kind of integrated approach they are looking for.
“Having a purpose beyond making a profit distinguishes our company. It helps us to attract and retain phenomenal employees."
- Marc Benioff, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, salesforce.com, inc.
Be sure to check out the other blogs in this series: