Master the Art of Smart Giving

Employers can no longer afford to ignore corporate social responsibility. Here’s how to do good in a way that benefits everyone

Written by Bryan Pearson

Despite a challenging economy, it’s well understood that today’s younger workforce is looking for more than just a steady paycheque. Like all job-hunters, members of Generation Y, otherwise known as Millennials, are ranking and rating job options based on a multitude of factors, but they are specifically placing higher value on an organization’s social value platforms than preceding generations.

While the concept of “purpose-driven” organizations has been around for years, the younger workforce is intrinsically interested in working at companies that are socially responsible and provide greater purpose. According to a 2014 Global Social Responsibility survey by Neilson, among those with a desire to work for a “sustainable” company, 49% were Millennials, 26% were Generation Xers and 13% were Baby Boomers. This represents a striking variance that should not be ignored.

According to a 2016 study by Fidelity Investments, 41% of Millennials are planning to start a new job in the next two years. With these younger workers placing great importance on their contribution to a more sustainable and compassionate world, creating employee-centric workplace programs that further those goals can be a powerful attraction and retention tool.

To create a compelling social value platform that really attracts young talent, businesses should focus on three key elements: a value connection, a community connection and an employee connection. Here’s how to do just that.

1. The value connection

In my last column I discussed how to create business values that truly reflect your company. When selecting charities to support, it’s important for the causes to line up with the values and visions already in place within your organization. This creates an opportunity to demonstrate how you’re acting on your company’s core beliefs, and can be viewed as a positive differentiator of your business.

2. The community connection

Businesses aren’t just profit-generating machines; they’re an integral part of the social fabric of their communities. That’s especially true of small businesses. When building a giving program, it’s important to support causes that resonate with the communities you serve.  Doing so creates a powerful platform for conversations with your customers that will foster and grow relationships (and, ultimately, loyalty).

3. The employee connection

As mentioned earlier, younger employees want to work for companies whose values match their own. Once you’ve established a list of charities or community outreach opportunities that align with the values of your organization and the interests of your community, it can be very valuable to involve your employees in the selection process. This is a particularly effective way to engender a sense of ownership and pride among millennial workers, and to deepen employee engagement.

You can take things a step further by enabling and empowering employees to support social causes. Benefits such as a paid volunteer day off, paid travel expenses for volunteer efforts and budgeted funds for team volunteer efforts can deliver a powerful ROI back to the company.

Simple tweaks to current programs can deliver real results, quickly. For example, at LoyaltyOne, we transitioned our company-wide volunteer day to a company-wide volunteer week. In the process, we also provided our associates with the opportunity to nominate charities that they were passionate about supporting. As a result, our associates together made meaningful contributions to more than 40 charities served by 34 volunteer events.

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Building a “purpose-driven” culture that supports a better world is essential to being an employer that everyone is proud to work for. Millennials are simply providing us, as employers, with further impetus to raise the bar in our approach. Companies that create and encourage purpose-driven engagement with a value-, community- and employee-connected platform, will ultimately gain an advantage in attracting, recruiting and retaining top-tier, engaged employees across all generations. In the end, it’s a win-win-win for businesses, employees and their communities.

Bryan Pearson is an internationally-recognized expert and author in the field of customer loyalty. As President and CEO of LoyaltyOne, a pioneer in loyalty strategies and data-driven marketing, Bryan has spent more than two decades developing meaningful customer relationships for some of the world’s leading companies. Bryan has spearheaded LoyaltyOne’s expansion into new markets across the globe and has grown the AIR MILES Rewards Program into Canada’s premier coalition loyalty program with more than 10 million participants.


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