Millennials at work
We live in an era where consumer power is more important than ever. Customers are increasingly voting with their dollar and holding companies accountable for their actions. The result is the vast array of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives that we know of today: environmental programmes, philanthropic efforts, ethical labour practices, volunteering programmes, and so on. While all this is undeniably beneficial for improving customer perceptions and increasing profits, let us not forget that it is also a huge goldmine in itself for boosting employee fulfilment and happiness, especially when it comes to millennials.
Reshaping the workplace
As of right now, millennials make up more than 30% of our workforce, and that number is climbing steadily. By 2025, they are expected to comprise up to 75% of the very same workforce - becoming the majority that we should no longer ignore1. What this means for businesses is that there is a growing need to evolve and innovate so as to stay competitive in attracting this lucrative group. A different employee demographic brings with it its unique challenges and requirements. After all, millennials have different expectations and priorities - one of which involves finding relatable social purpose and accountability in their workplace.
CSR for recruitment and retention
Millennials want to be active participants of social purpose, so much so that 75% of them are willing to take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company2. In the same vein, 76% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments before deciding on where to work3. CSR provides employees with a sense of purpose via meaningful work, which helps meet what millennials demand. CSR is also known to benefit the company in the long run4 through the creation of:
1. A greater sense of identity with the company that they are working for, leading to increased workplace morale and healthier mindsets
2. Increased overall commitment to the company, reducing job stability related stresses
3. A more attractive company culture that can aid in recruiting and retaining like-minded people for a more supportive work environment
4. Better employee engagement, allowing them to be more productive and motivated for self-improvement
5. Improved creative involvement to generate new ideas for innovative problem-solving
In other words, meeting your employees’ needs of workplace fulfilment via the effective implementation of CSR initiatives can create positive outlooks and promote happiness. In turn, this benefits the company. Studies show that positive employees tend to outperform negative employees in terms of productivity, sales, energy levels, turnover rates and healthcare costs. It is estimated, for instance, that optimistic sales people outperform their pessimistic counterparts by up to 37%5. Happier employees can also help the company save on medical costs, from upwards of $2,552 per employee per year6. Ultimately, it is worth noting that all of this creates a positive feedback loop whereby happiness and performance reinforce each other: when workers are fulfilled, they become happier, creativity thrives, performance improves, they find more fulfilment in progress, and so on.
Creating corporate social purpose
It can be easy to pick a social responsibility to associate your company with, but the truth is that not all CSR initiatives are made equal, with some working out to be better than others. If done half-heartedly, it may even do more harm than good, as your company risks alienating the very customers and employees that it is meant to cater to. As such, our tip is to focus not just on responsibility, but on that of purpose.
Corporate social purpose (CSP) goes one step further than corporate social responsibility. It is still a commitment to a social good, but at the same time it elevates said commitment by ensuring that it is woven into the very fabric of the company’s culture and goals. At its core, CSP is crafted to achieve your economic and social goals simultaneously since their alignment should make them nearly indivisible from each other. So take your time to really consider and select a cause that will be a genuine fit for your company. Even if the link is not immediately obvious to others, it will undoubtedly connect with your audience and your employees if it is done right.
Experience shows that people support initiatives they help to create. When you engage your employees and the relevant stakeholders via a dedicated corporate social purpose, you can maximise impact and buy-in. This allows for meaningful social purpose to authentically weave its way into your corporate culture and perpetually generate happiness for the people involved. The increase in fulfilling work will go on to sustain a happy, healthy and productive workforce via the aforementioned positive feedback loop. At the end of the day, the benefits of CSR and CSP are clear: employees that are happy and invested in the company are more willing to go the extra mile for the company’s success, especially when the company is similarly willing to do so for its employees’ happiness.
1 Pelosi, P. (2018). Millennials Want Workplaces With Social Purpose. How Does Your Company Measure Up?
2 Dailey, W. (2016). 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study.
3 Dailey, W. (2016). 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study.
4 Griek, O. (2017). 6 Ways Corporate Social Responsibility Benefits Your Employees.
5 Achor, S. (2010). The happiness advantage.
6 Westervelt, A. (2014). Happy employees are healthier (and cheaper). The Guardian.