Hello, Millennial? It's Me, the Company Trying to Hire You

It's tough getting the attention of Millennials these days. The best of them are mesmerized by the Googles and Facebooks and dazzling upstarts of the world, and of course why wouldn't they be? Preeminent global giants and small but hot groundbreakers that are scorching the marketplace - these are the companies that dominate the public's imagination and social media sphere (especially when they are the social media sphere.)

How's a little ol' company like yours -- not the Homecoming King, nor the coolest kid in class -- supposed to compete for the attention of the newest generation of employees?

Here's the answer: develop a superb employer brand. Without drawing a sharp line around your mission and values, your odds of attracting top Millennial talent are about as good as your odds of reversing gravity. And if you don't attract Millennials- - which comprise the largest percentage of today's workforce compared to Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers -- then your company will find itself gradually becoming obsolete.


So, here's the next question, and it might be a little awkward. Do you know what your company's mission and values are? You do? Cool. What about your employees?


Don't worry, the good news is that you're not alone. Turns out that only 42% of employees know their organization's vision, mission, and values. Why? Because too few executives are communicating and reinforcing their company's guiding principles, especially when it comes to their company's social mission.

Millennials care deeply about your social mission, even if it's sometimes an afterthought to you. Study after study over the past few years has borne out this fact. One report showed that the third top consideration for Millennials applying for a job is the company's involvement with causes, and more than 50% of Millennials accept a job based upon a company's involvement with causes.

So put yourself in the headspace of a Millennial. As part of a generation that places an enormous priority on working for companies that are making a positive impact in the world, what's it going to look like to accept a position with a business that isn't engaging in their community in meaningful ways? Quality candidates are going to steer clear of your company's selfish vibe, and the candidates that sign on may be embarrassed to do so.

Et voila - one more reason why your company should approach corporate philanthropy with the utmost seriousness of purpose. Of course, behaving as a diligent corporate citizen is, first and foremost, the right thing to do. But creating a culture of giving back is also the key to attracting Millennials, not only by providing them with a sense of purpose but also with an answer to the question, "Why do you work there?"

Through the lens of job searching, giving back also exposes your brand to a wider audience. How? Well, first you're obviously doing an excellent job of telling your impact story, right? (ahem.) So right up front on your website and social media channels, job candidates can understand the connection between your business mission and social values, and how this is being translated into action.

Next, you should be wrapping social purpose engagement into all of your company's job descriptions. Sure, volunteering is voluntary, but candidates should understand that the position comes with a wealth of options to get more purposeful with their work and help everyone at the C-suite on down in realizing your company's social consciousness. You might even try incorporating some of this social value emphasis into job titles, making it clear that your company embraces a culture of community impact and every job is a part of the impact story. This will become a key part of the decision-making process for candidates, so put it all up front in clear language.

As you move towards a more pronounced vision of social responsibility, you'll find that your employees will be doing further recruiting for you, spreading the word about your compelling culture and values. This sort of authentic advocacy from employees creates priceless PR that can't be beat, bolstering your brand in the marketplace and creating kinetic buzz.

For example, Causecast's client Pearson recently a campaign where about 1200 employees donated to the cause... and 900 social media interactions were generated from employees. All of these tweets and posts boasted, "I donated $X to (the nonprofit). Thanks @pearson for matching it!' Imagine asking 900 employees to tweet something nice about your company; it just wouldn't get done. But volunteerism and giving triggers a sense of pride in the employee's part of their company's mission. Pair that with a volunteer platform (like Causecast's) that practically automates the social media process, and you'll see this outpouring of company love happening all the time.

All of this feeds into the aforementioned storytelling, so that you can keep evolving your narrative around how you're engaging your employees with their communities. To facilitate this process with thousands of employees, Causecast created something I call Story Capture. Your stories are best told through the perspectives of your employees, and you can't tell those stories unless they're harnessed. So we offer mobile capture of photos and videos and text as employees volunteer in the field, which helps document the joyous experience of giving back and inspire others to get involved.

Through their storytelling, these employees will not only create a viral enthusiasm for the causes you're championing and your brand as a whole, they'll be less likely to leave your company. Which is quite a feat when it comes to Millennials. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Millennials have an average job tenure that's anemic compared to the median for their older colleagues: the average time on the job for those between 20 and 24 years old is less than 16 months, and for those between 25 and 34 it's three years, about two years less than for older generations. Holding on to Millennials is a challenge these days, and a strong social mission is one way to keep their interest.

Creating a superb employer brand isn't easy, but it's not a mystery either. Fine-tune your social compass and pour energy into bringing that direction into focus for everyone who touches your organization. Eventually you'll find that your company -- even if it's not dominating the news in other ways - does have what it takes to attract and retain the kind of top Millennial talent that will pave the future for your business for years to come.