It’s still too early to pigeonhole the Millennials, but there’s one common thread that keeps showing up: community service as a social responsibility.
Savvy employers already know that, as a generation, Millennials care about social causes and will likely evaluate your company based on its level of social responsibility. It’s up to the would-be employers to prove themselves worthy of Millennials by highlighting the social causes their organization supports, and how they help the communities in which they do business. For smaller businesses that have a harder time attracting Millennials, highlighting community roots is especially important.
And Millennials consider social responsibilities when they look at the entire compensation package. Flexible work schedules, telecommuting, and time off for volunteering can help Millennials feel valued beyond the dollar amount on their paycheck.
Ben Reuler is Executive Director of SeattleWorks, a nonprofit that brings corporations and people together to volunteer and do good work in the community. “Employee engagement, employee volunteerism is an HR issue,” he recently told a crowd of professionals and community organizers in downtown Seattle. “The smart companies are realizing this.”
Reuler believes the best way to reach this new class of young people is to give them the opportunity to use their skills, not just for the company, but to benefit the broader community as well.
“Employees who volunteer together think more highly of their company, are more likely to stay with their company,” said Reuler. “They have better teamwork and lower stress, better time management. So this is really an HR issue.”
Employees of all ages benefit from giving back but Millennials, in particular, thrive when they have a sense of agency and purpose. Racquel Russell, Zillow Group’s Director of Government Relations and Public Affairs, believes Zillow’s commitment to employee engagement gives the company an edge when recruiting Seattle’s young newcomers.
“For Millennials, they need to feel their own agency,” she said. “They need to feel like they’re part of changing the world, in whatever small way that they are, and so we, at Zillow, recognize that and provide various opportunities for them to do that.”
Many tech titans realize that for Millennials, corporate social responsibility isn’t just a perk. It can be a dealbreaker. Companies like Microsoft and Google have formalized volunteer programs, donation matches, and other initiatives to encourage employees to get involved.
The panelists agreed that beyond recruiting and retention, actively engaging newcomers is vital to the health and prosperity of Seattle.
As sports reporter and panelist Art Thiel pointed out, “Rather than looking at all the new buildings and counting the construction cranes, we need to look at all the new people they’re bringing in and realize that they are the real assets.”
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