How a social cause can improve your company and also impress Gen Y

How a social cause can improve your company and also impress Gen Y

I am 29 years old and one of the younger people in my team, you would think that I could easily relate to the younger workforce, but you will be surprised. I have tried to be the “cool” boss by being flexible with roles, working hours, dress code – we even throw massive frat parties! While I know my team appreciate all of these things, the most respect I have seen my team ever give me has been when I have been involved in philanthropic, charitable or social causes. 

With the global economy still shaky and with the employment situation here at home slowly getting worse, you might think that today’s young people would be desperate for any job that they are offered. If so, you are completely wrong.

The younger generation of workers, known as Gen Y or the Millennials, have for the most part matured into adulthood with a completely different mindset than their elders. They clearly want their lives to mean something. They want to make a difference in the world. They are not content to work, play and then die.

They carry this desire into their employment situation. They don’t want to be just a cog in a wheel, going about their job from 9 to 5 and then forgetting about it once they leave the premises. They want to do work that they can be proud of, in an environment where they feel that they, as individuals, matter.

Millennials are quick to leave an employer that doesn’t satisfy their criteria, as is evidenced by a turnover rate that is twice that of previous generations. They will happily bounce from job to job until they find the one that fits; the one that offers the best combination of factors that they want.

Employer with a heart

While Millennials, like all employees, want to make enough money to enable them to live a decent life, their definition of “decent” is quite flexible. They don’t seem to mind taking lesser pay if they can obtain the rest of their desires when it comes to a job.

And the one thing specifically that Millennials want is to feel that they are making a difference in the world, and that their work is making a difference. Company culture is critical in this situation, and can definitely make or break their decision. If you run a company that is seen as greedy and rapacious, you can be sure that you will have difficulty hiring Millennials.

In terms of culture, Millennials want creativity – they are not interested in a 9 to 5 sit-at-your-desk type of position. They want flexible schedules and the opportunity for remote work. They also want meaningful feedback and the opportunity for personal and professional growth.

And, one of the best ways to make your company attractive to Millennials is to present it as a company with a cause. But you’d better be sincere about your cause, because Millennials can sniff out a faker a million miles away.

Volunteering and supporting good works

Millennials want to make the world a better place. They want to be offered opportunities to volunteer for charities of their choice, and to participate in organisation-wide events as well. If your company also displays intent to do so, then Millennials can feel proud of working in such an environment. They will be happier and prouder of their work, and they will let others know, too.

For example, my company, Wealth Enhancers, participates in the OzHarvest CEO Cookoff, an annual event in which leaders of companies partner up with chefs from some of Australia’s top restaurants to cook up a three-course meal for 1000 homeless and disadvantaged people. In addition to feeding the homeless, the event has raised over $3 million for charities to help raise awareness of the issue of food insecurity in the nation.

We also helped organise and launch the first Melbourne 10×10 event last month. The 10×10 concept began in Sydney, with a group of ten people, who invited ten more people, for a total of 100 “donors”. Each attendee donated an initial $100, thus securing a minimum of $10,000 raised for the evening. At the event itself, three charities make their pitches to the attendees, who then split their donations according to which charity they preferred.

The success of these events, and the enthusiasm with which they were met among the Melbourne community, demonstrates the commitment of the younger generation to making a difference in the world.

Millennials are the future

It’s critical that you get it right when attracting Millennials because they will account for the majority of the global work force in 10 short years. By then, you need to find a way to shift your corporate culture and values to something that aligns with theirs. Your entire way of doing business may need to be revamped, from the way you manage, to the way you recognise and reward performance, to the benefits you offer, and the causes you support.

Millennials are independent-minded, tech-savvy, and unafraid of leaving a job that is unsuitable. If you don’t know how to retain them, you may have a difficult time finding enough employees to staff your business.

I want to challenge all business owners out there to find one social cause that you can support this year and get your whole team involved. You may feel that you don’t have enough time or it will cost you too much but trust me you will get more benefits than you can imagine.

Finn Kelly is the CEO and co-founder of award-winning Gen Y financial advisory firm, Wealth Enhancers, along with the parent company, premier private wealth management firm WE Private.

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