"As I started looking for jobs, many people offered words of advice. A majority of the comments focused on finding an organization that aligned with my values. I have always been passionate about volunteering and giving back, but it wasn't a key consideration when deciding what company would be a good fit for me. When I was approached by Hershey, the conversation was centered around the Milton Hershey School and Good to Give Back Week when employees are provided with different volunteer opportunities in the community. Obviously the idea of working with chocolate was exciting, but the real selling point for me was knowing I would be encouraged to volunteer. Throughout the year, the company offers amazing opportunities to participate in activities that support education, empowering women, fighting hunger, and the environment. Hershey’s dedication to giving back encourages positive thinking, enables team building, and helps develop a sense of unity."
- Millie McKain, Senior Analyst, Information Services
Millie is pictured above with her little in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Millennials today view work as an integrated part of their life, not a separate activity, so they are deeply concerned with ensuring that their company’s values align with their own. As a result, it’s no surprise that the frequency of corporate sponsored volunteer time has increased millennial job satisfaction.
According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, millennials who have stayed with their company for five years or longer were 88% satisfied with their sense of purpose, which ranked higher than any other aspect of their job.
Young talent is unlikely to stick around an organization that operates contrary to their personal values. Further, companies that support employees' efforts to advance causes they care about through volunteering programs stand to retain their talent.
The hype around the millennial generation's being the giving generation is not without merit. If you give millennials time to volunteer, they will use it. The 2016 Millennial Impact Report found that 46% of respondents had volunteered for a cause affiliated with a social issue they care about in the past month. Further, 52% had donated to a cause affiliated with a social issue they care about in the past month.
Many young adults volunteer their time outside of work, but nearly two-thirds of millennial employees surveyed by Deloitte Volunteer Impact Research prefer companies that let them volunteer skills while at work.
“The Assurance Caring Together program is one of my favorite things about working at Assurance,” said Sonia Aujla, age 30, senior client-service representative at Assurance, an independent insurance agency in Chicago. “Having had the opportunity to choose from such an expansive list of volunteer options over my five years here has been such an amazing experience. Every time I leave one of these ACT days, I walk away with such an amazing sense of accomplishment and pride.”
If you ask a millennial who has participated in a volunteer program through his or her work, you’re likely to hear rave reviews.
“Being heavily involved in the social media accounts for UHY Cares, our company’s nonprofit, I am able to see all of the donations to different organizations, all of the volunteering we do and how much we help in our local community,” said Chris Clark, marketing and communications coordinator at UHY LLP, a certified public accountants company. “Seeing all of that definitely makes me appreciate the company I work for more.”
While corporate paid-release volunteer programs are nothing new, they continue to grow in popularity. When they began, they were common among the largest companies, but smaller companies did not have an expectation for volunteering.
“Today, employees expect their companies to be good corporate citizens,” said Tyrene Hodge, corporate responsibility manager at Cox Enterprises, a communications, media, and automotive services company. “It’s not a nice to do, it’s a business imperative.”
It’s clear that in today’s market, to attract millennials, having a paid-release volunteer program does not give a company an edge, but rather keeps the company competitive with other employers.
According to a study by The CEO Force For Good, which surveyed 271 companies, 59% offered paid-release time for employees to volunteer in 2014, up from 52% in 2012. This number is expected to continue growing as more companies fight to remain relevant in the corporate social responsibility space.
Companies are recognizing this trend and are strengthening their volunteer programs in response. Some even organize corporate volunteer days around one initiative to make a magnified impact.
“International Franchise Association members came up with the idea of Franchising Gives Back, a volunteer event at the IFA’s annual convention, to show their support to the local community where the convention was being held,” said John Reynolds, CFE, president of the Franchise Education and Research Foundation, the oldest and largest organization representing franchising worldwide. “Last year, the volunteers divided into two teams. One team provided hygiene kits and the other team did landscaping work on the grounds of the Wounded Warrior and Family Support Center in San Antonio, Texas.”
Further, America’s Charities 2015 Snapshot found that 77% of respondents feel that offering employee-engagement opportunities is key to attracting and retaining millennials. While not necessarily their primary goal, companies find that their volunteer programs are attracting millennial talent.
“Our Corporate Social Responsibility program was started based on feedback from staff,” said Jessica Schaeffer, marketing director at LaSalle Network, a national staffing, recruiting, and culture firm. “We regularly conduct employee engagement surveys and have open lines of communication between management and staff surrounding all topics. Being able to attract great talent is an added benefit. More and more over the last year, we’ve heard candidates discuss our CSR program in their interviews, citing it as a huge driver in their decision to apply to LaSalle.”
There’s no telling where this trend will evolve to in future years, but it’s clear that companies wanting to compete for millennial talent must incorporate a volunteer program into their benefits because their youngest employees look for corporate alignment with their own values.
Millennials who have stuck around their company for more than a couple of years likely have a good story to share about how they’ve given back with their company’s support.
This article was written by Kaytie Zimmerman from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.