Millennials already outnumber any other generation in the workforce and within just a couple of years they will make-up more than half the total workforce.
They aren’t motivated by work prestige or big money – rather they are looking to improve the world around them. According to a study by Bentley University, 84% of millennials said that making a positive difference in the world was more important than professional recognition.
So, if monetary reward and professional recognition don’t work as incentives to attract and retain top talent, what will?
The answer: Corporate Social (and Environmental) Responsibility (CSR).
The Millennial Impact Report found that more than half of millennials have been inspired to work long-term for a company whose mission it is to change the world.
This is shifting CSR into the foreground and will make it a key issue for all businesses in the next few years. The PwC Global CEO Survey shows that 64% of companies are making CSR ‘core’ to their business. Yet only 29% of companies focus on their reputation for CSR in order to attract and retain the best talent.
Companies that demonstrate long-term commitment, putting in place good processes and platforms for managing CSR, will outperform others in terms of talent acquisition and retention, productivity, and sales.
Attracting Top Talent Using CSR
According to a Project ROI Report, 76% of Americans wouldn’t take a job with a company that had a bad reputation even if they were unemployed. This emphasises the importance of a good reputation for CSR, with 45% of millennials saying they would take a pay cut to work for a company that makes a positive social or environmental impact.
You won’t get passionate people who believe in your company by throwing more money at them. You need to demonstrate that you are committed to making that positive impact, that it’s a core part of how you operate. Be vocal about the work you do, the opportunities you offer employees, and the systems and policies you have in place that demonstrate your commitment to CSR. Include a section in recruiter profiles and make sure you talk about your CSR work during interviews.
The same report also found that CSR reduced employee turnover by 25-50% – the same effect as a $3,700 pay rise per year. This saves recruitment costs of 90-200% of an employee’s annual salary. So, CSR not only helps attract top talent, it helps retain it too.
CSR Improves Productivity
Despite fears that CSR takes time away from the actual work of a company, CSR programmes have been shown to improve productivity by around 13%, according to Project ROI.
As Simon Sinek has pointed out, people are more motivated by why companies and people do what they do than what or how they do it.
Appointing someone within the business to be the key point person for your CSR programmes can provide a much-needed focus and keeps things moving. Enabling CSR with technology is usually the best and easiest way to engage all employees with minimal manual management. Employees are then given the choice of whether to get involved or not, volunteering and fundraising for causes they feel passionately about, as and when they can.
Growing Sales with CSR
As we’ve seen, CSR is great at attracting, retaining, and inspiring the top talent. But customers are inspired by CSR too!
In the US, 83% of consumers say they want more products and services they use to contribute to a social cause, with 62% saying they’d switch brands if it didn’t have a clear social purpose.
As such, companies with a good reputation for CSR see sales revenue increase by up to 20%, according to the Project ROI Report, with every $1 in philanthropic contributions generating $6 of revenue (within limits).
Of course, sales won’t increase if customers don’t know the work you are doing, so you need to shout about it. Add it to your packaging like Innocent do, or build it into your advertising, for example. Just make sure you are tracking the impact you make.
This is often easier said than done, but a CSR manager or technology platform should be able to keep a running total of money donated, hours spent volunteering, paper and ink saved, etc. These facts help to benchmark your business against others and demonstrate your commitment to CSR, giving you great marketing material.
Use a survey or workshop to ask what causes your employees are interested in – if staff feel they have an input into the CSR decisions, they’ll be far more committed. Ultimately, the most effective CSR programmes are those that fit in with your brand ethos and employees’ passions. Find yours and commit to it wholeheartedly – employees, customers, and the world will thank you.
About the author: Marco Barbosa is a serial entrepreneur who has started three successful businesses and has been named in Forbes 30 under 30 for Social Entrepreneurship. His latest venture, eSolidar, is a tech platform connecting businesses with charities to enable better CSR and employee engagement.
eSolidar has just launched on equity crowdfunding site Seedrs. When he’s not starting businesses, doing TEDx talks, or advocating corporate responsibility, Marco likes to travel and experience different cultures around the world.