If you care about Millennial recruitment -- which you should if you care about the future of your company -- you need to understand how to make these socially conscious employees feel connected to the greater purpose of your company. It's not enough to offer a volunteer and giving program; you need to think about how to make this program inviting to employees of each generation, from X-ers to Boomers and beyond.
Your Millennial employees want to participate in CSR activities at the office, so the volunteer and giving program you're offering is a great start. But there's one thing that can undermine all of your efforts.
Indifference. If their peers and direct supervisors aren't supportive, young employees may not have the encouragement they need to actually participate.
This is one of the conclusions of the 2015 Millennial Impact Report, which studied the relationships between Millennial employees and their managers as well as how those relationships influence engagement in company-sponsored cause work. Twenty-seven percent of Millennial employees said they're more likely to donate to a cause if their supervisor does; while 46 percent of employees are likely to donate if a co-worker asks them. The support from the top of the food chain carries less weight; only 21 percent of Millennial employees said they're more likely to make a donation if the CEO or a top-ranking executive asks them.
When it comes to Millennials, here are six tips spelled out by the Millennial Impact Report to combat management and peer indifference and increase volunteer participation:
1. Offer episodic, short-term volunteer opportunities. With most Millennial employees volunteering between 1 and 10 hours a year, Millennials -- like most casual volunteers -- need to start with easy, low barrier to entry opportunities that are social in nature. Indeed, last year's report found that 77 percent of Millennial employees prefer to volunteer with groups of fellow employees rather than doing cause work on their own. Since skills-based volunteering is also popular amongst Millennial employees, integrating skills-based work into days of service events is a great way to attract Millennial participation.
2. Leverage competitions and incentives. The gamification of service has become a real draw to Millennial employees, in particular. Adding a sense of competition to a giving campaign or volunteer project increases participation, especially if there are tangible incentives such as name recognition, prizes and additional time off.
3. Show how participation makes a difference. Impact is more important than ever to companies, communities and volunteers. Today's donors -- and Millennials in particular -- want to know that their involvement means something. This year's report found that 79 percent of Millennial employees who volunteered through their companies felt they made a positive difference, but over time, managers and Millennial employees are less influenced by the issue or cause itself. Competitions and incentives can inspire short-term engagement, but managers should always show employees how their donation or volunteer hours made a difference in a person's life or benefited a community.
4. Match donations. The Millennial Impact Report has consistently found that Millennials represent an increasingly charitable generation, both at work and outside of work. Last year, 84 percent of the Millennial employees surveyed made a charitable donation. The study found that one of the top ways of motivating both managers and Millennials to give is through donation matching. 74 percent of managers said they would be more likely to donate to a company-giving campaign if their employer matched at least some portion of their gift. And of course the more that managers are inspired to give, the more they will influence their Millennial reports to do the same.
5. Identify causes that your employees care about. Millennials wants to give to causes they care about, so if you don't know what these causes are, find out by asking. Companies have an opportunity to engage employees through cause work, even if it's not causes directly supported by the company. Seventy-nine percent of Millennial employees who did not participate in a company-wide giving campaign still donated to a cause outside of work.
6. Encourage unsanctioned giving. Or as I like to say, deputize your more philanthropic employees and leverage their energies as community leads. More than half of Millennial employees have made a donation to a cause their company isn't associated with in response to a co-worker's personal solicitation. Community leads are important advocates that you need on your side to promote your corporate culture of giving back, regardless of whether it yields results for the direct efforts of your program.
The 2015 Millennial Impact Report is packed with interesting data and insights about how to cultivate an inspiring environment of purpose that will resonate with Millennial employees and recruits, so I encourage you to read the report in full. There is so much to gain from an active volunteer culture, and perhaps the most important - as this and past Millennial Impact Reports have found - are the bonds developed by employees with one another. Co-worker relationships are not only influenced by cause participation; these relationships also contribute to long-term happiness at work. In fact, bonds with co-workers are one of the biggest factors that make Millennials want to stay at their company for more than three years.
With that in mind, company leaders would be well advised to pay close attention to how they can create a culture of volunteer encouragement amongst employees and managers. Beware of philanthropy apathy; it's contagious and can torpedo your best intentions. The best deterrent to indifference is fostering a culture where giving back is supported throughout your company and everyone inspires one other to get involved.