Millennials are unique among humanity’s generations for quite a few reasons, but one of the most remarkable is that many of them blend their personal and professional lives. This is remarkable on so many levels, but it doesn’t just happen by itself.
For a start, it requires a work culture that provides both meaningful tasks and a meaningful connection to the outside world. As millennials make their presence known in more and more corporate leadership roles, job “perks” like these often include corporate volunteering opportunities.
And you know what? They’ve been a big hit. This generation is taking sponsored giving and volunteering to new heights – and new places all around the world.
What Millennials Want in a ‘Job’
Part of the reason why millennials have emerged as a champion of corporate volunteering is because it satisfies something we all need and deserve: job satisfaction. Millennials want it most out of their jobs, according to several studies. The same studies say employees who stay with their companies for extended periods of time very frequently cite job satisfaction as a major reason for sticking around.
Giving back to the community is a great way to build job satisfaction.
So you want your company to give back. How do you connect your volunteering efforts with what your company does “for a living”? Does it even matter if there’s a direct correlation between your line of work and the cause you’re giving to? Not really. There’s no reason a web development company in upstate New York can’t help build a school in Guyana or another quickly developing nation. Sometimes, giving is just giving – it’s always needed somewhere, and it’s almost always welcomed.
One thing you can certainly do if you’re looking for a place to direct your charitable energies is to just ask. Send around an email or a survey and encourage your employees to share their favorite charities – including where they give money and especially where they’re motivated enough to volunteer in person. We’ll talk more in a moment about why this kind of “personal” volunteering is so important.
Everybody has different charities they love giving to, but you’ll probably see a couple names floated more often than others. Take this as a sign that your team members are like-minded when it comes to how corporate volunteering should be focused. According to more millennial-focused research, this generation volunteers their time surprisingly often. Of those polled, 52% gave money to charity in the previous month and 46% gave their time.
Given all that, it’s worth taking their word for it when it comes to worthwhile causes. If there’s an organization they care about, look for ways to help them connect with it. Let’s talk more about that right now.
Where Should Your Efforts Be Spent?
If you’ve taken the time to see how your employees express their charitability, you might have a shortlist of organizations, local or global, that resonate with them and to which they might have an interest in lending a helping hand.
We’ve talked about most of this from the perspective of the employee, but in case the benefits for management weren’t obvious, let’s park on that for a moment.
You can find case studies all over the place describing the remarkable return on investment that corporate volunteering efforts deliver to companies large and small. The rewards your “brand” could enjoy by making itself synonymous with doing good in the world can’t really be overstated. The Carroll School of Management studied this formally and documented how closely linked employer-sponsored volunteering and core business goals really are. “Reputation management” is just the tip of a very enticing iceberg. Here’s the rest of it:
You almost certainly know about Hershey. Their website contains a number of testimonials from very happy employees who describe the company’s charitable and volunteering efforts in glowing terms. Hershey’s results mirror all of the surveys we discussed above – companies that make giving a major part of their company culture retain talent for longer and enjoy better morale and job satisfaction.
We’re parked in Pennsylvania already thanks to Hershey, so take a look at nearby Reynolds and their inspiring partnership with the United Way and the Hummel Street Project. The former is a charity you almost certainly know by name already, but the latter is a local volunteering effort focused especially on home building for the homeless in Harrisburg, PA.
What better way to associate your company with giving than by remaining focused on local as well as more distant needs in the human community?
Near or Far? Just Find a Way to Give
Whether you choose a direction for your organization’s charitable efforts in a boardroom or by circulating a survey in your workplace, know that somebody in the world is going to be very grateful – and so will your team members. No matter what kind of work you do, giving back to the world feels good. Millennials know it, and they’re helping to bring these values to companies all across the country and the world.
And if you choose a local project to partner with – building homes, giving rides to the elderly, collecting or circulating food and water to those in need – your efforts will be rewarded almost immediately in the form of brighter smiles and good works done.
But even if you’d prefer to give to a charity that works more remotely in the world, or volunteering in a physical way just isn’t an option for your company, there’s no reason your projects shouldn’t have a personal touch. If you can manage it, consider sending a small team from your office to the site where your money is being put to work. They’ll bring back tons of photos, stories and memories to share with your whole company to make the somewhat abstract act of giving their money some real-world weight.
Or maybe you could set productivity goals for each of your teams and donate company money to a charity each time those goals are exceeded.
The point is, keeping your company’s eyes on the needs of the local and global communities and giving back in your own way isn’t too difficult. And your employees – particularly the younger ones – will appreciate that their career path gave them an opportunity to do the same.