There’s only one way to attract and retain millennial talent — but it’ll cost you a few bricks


Future Fitouts co-founder and operations director Lauren Lowe. Source: Supplied.

Providing a well-paid job to staff in good conditions is no longer enough for employee satisfaction. We live in a time of low unemployment, dual-household incomes and a standard of living higher than our parents and grandparents before them.

Millennials are at the vanguard of this revolution, and by 2025, they will comprise two-thirds of the Australian workforce. They have never experienced the self-preservationist anxiety that comes with high-interest rates or the hardship of war. They are driving a mindset shift and we as business owners have an opportunity to jump on board and steer it in our favour.

I’m one of these millennials, and as a millennial have a strong desire to give back and make a difference to the world. As a business owner maximising profit is not my sole focus.

The new model of social impact

Previously, businesses were either a ‘for-profit’ company or a ‘not-for-profit’ company. You either maximised the takings as a business owner or served a higher purpose without the profits. But many millennial-run businesses today are looking to do more, and with greater knowledge widely available, there are more opportunities to run a profitable business and give back at the same time.

One such model is the ‘buy one, give one’ (B1G1) initiative. Members of this model have together created more than 178 million impacts around the world. One of the early and notable pioneers of this concept is the Californian for-profit company, Toms Shoes. For every purchase, the company gives one pair to a child in need.

The model has been adopted by businesses around the world, including eyewear company Warby Parker, and our own company, Future Fitouts. For every new enquiry we receive, we provide a meal to a rescued Australian animal, for every new proposal we email, we give a brick to a school in Kenya, and for every project we complete, we save one square metre of rainforest in the Daintree.

Our long-term goal to create one million impacts motivates our team.

It makes great business sense, not because of its ability to create positive social change, but because of its power to unite a group of people — your socially conscious staff — behind a shared cause. It provides a mission they can believe in and delivers a genuine sense of satisfaction for a job well done.

The staff impact

For me, it’s not enough to run a successful business. I want to give back and make the world a better place — something our future generations and children can be proud of. And it turns out I’m not alone.

The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018 of 10,000 millennials around the world showed companies place too much weight on the financial aspects of running a business and not enough on the organisation’s impact on its employees, the community and the environment. As any good business owner knows, people are crucial for business success.

The key questions that keep business owners awake at night are: ‘How do you find them? And how do you keep them?’

It turns out 80% of our team at Future Fitouts are millennials and all of them feel they are part of something bigger that makes a positive difference in the world. By explaining upfront our B1G1 model during the recruitment process, we attract individuals who have a shared vision to achieve more.

We can find the people who align with our values. They take ownership. They’re accountable for their actions and responsible for the outcome.

They deliver leadership. They motivate themselves and others to succeed and make it happen, and they bring their best authentic, genuine and honest selves to work every, single day.

Yes, we’ve had people de-select themselves from the company when they find out what we’re all about, and this has been a gift in itself. If they aren’t the type of people who feel good about giving — especially when it’s not their own money — they’re not players for our team.

The effect on the bottom line

You might think all this good work has to cost a lot of money, but it doesn’t. The great thing about B1G1 is the emphasis is not on the dollar value but on the social value of the contribution. It doesn’t cost a lot to donate a hay bale to a hungry animal or a brick for a school in Kenya. But the impact on the team of knowing we have contributed to a cause in a very real way is very valuable and pays us back in dividends.

Not only is it affordable, but the more we’ve given back, the more revenue we’ve made. Clients, partners and our team see we’re a business with integrity, wanting to make the world a better place, and they choose to work with us and achieve the vision together.

The impact is yours to make

The millennial generation already makes up the largest demographic in the American workforce — at 54 million — and will comprise 75% of the Australian workforce by 2025. They’re tech-savvy, enterprising and ambitious, and they won’t stick around if they’re not happy. They don’t just want a job — they want a place they feel part of and an environment they can make a difference in.

Millennials are a generation set to make a positive and progressive impact on Australian businesses. Those that resist change are counting themselves out of the race for top millennial talent. But businesses with an eye on the future, who get it, will reap the benefits of their tech-savviness, drive and ambition. These businesses will attract individuals who stand to make an impact on the companies they work with and the wider world around them.

NOW READ: An ‘opportunity-hunting’ generation: Here’s what millennial workers need and want

NOW READ: Muffin Break general manager slams millennials for not wanting to do unpaid work


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.