Millennials have grown into their own as a generation. In 2016, they overtook the Baby Boomers in the US by quantity, and are beginning to hold management positions as professionals and considerable purchasing power as consumers. Though stereotypes point to their self-obsession and disloyalty, there is plenty of research indicating millennials care about wellness, work-life balance, emotional intelligence, and corporate social responsibility (CSR). These priorities formed, from their developmental experience, have given rise to a wide-reaching impact.
According to Horizon Media’s Finger on the Pulse study, 81 percent of millennials expect companies to publicly pledge to be good corporate citizens. This applies to millennials as workers and consumers—and demonstrates they can’t be bought. Deloitte discovered in a survey that 78 percent of employees would chose to work for an ethical and reputable company rather than receive a higher salary. According to the Millennial Impact Report, professionals between the ages of 25 and 30 would also be more likely to take a job if corporate volunteerism is discussed in the interview.81% of millennials expect companies to publicly pledge to be good corporate citizens. Click To Tweet
For consumers, concern for ethics and responsibility cuts across generational lines: A Cone Communications survey found 87 percent of Americans will purchase a product because the company advocated for issues that matter to them. Naturally, millennials are 10 percent more likely than other generations to do their homework about a company’s ethical stance and the extent of their actions.
The Business Case for CSR
Behind these economic shifts is an overarching movement: Over the last decade, trust has eroded in institutions and corporations. People must still make decisions about where they will shop and work, so they increasingly look to ethics and CSR as guidance.
People must still make decisions about where they will shop and work, so they increasingly look to ethics and CSR as guidance.
Companies with prominent CSR programs utilize them as a beacon to attract top talent, and keep retention high. By showcasing ethics and values publicly, a company can stand out from the crowd as a positive place to be. Even better is to go beyond simply showing those values on a recruiting page, and begin activating them through robust CSR initiatives.
The business case for CSR doesn’t end at getting professionals in the door either. HR professionals looking at metrics from employee surveys and feedback have shared that the current workforce expects more in the way of responsibility.
These expectations have real merit, as employees who volunteer and participate in CSR often show increased performance. At Zendesk, we’ve seen a link between CSR, satisfaction among our customer support agents, which results in higher levels of customer satisfaction. This makes sense, as people who feel happier and more connected have more patience, empathy, and better interpersonal skills. They are empowered to offer a better customer experience, and through their success, continue to reinforce a positive cycle. An internal study at Zendesk revealed our customer agents who volunteered on a regular basis were three times more likely to be among the highest performers on measures of empathy.
CSR in Practice
There are many ways to approach CSR, from formal programs to simple subsidization. Here are some examples:
- Many companies organize or participate in large events, such as the annual ‘Tech Gives Back’ event by Technology Underwriting Greater Good (TUGG). It’s the largest day of service in tech, with over 1500 volunteers and 90 companies participating at more than 50 sites.
- For companies that offer sustainable products, CSR programs provide a chance to apply sustainability from another angle. United by Blue, a sustainable outdoor apparel company, lets employees take time off to volunteer at company-hosted cleanups. It aids their mission to remove a pound of trash for every product sold.
- A current trend in Fortune 500 companies is to lend out employees for a few weeks or months to volunteer their professional expertise. Developing countries get the benefit of cream-of-the-crop talent, while these workers broaden their horizons and get valuable leadership experience.
Reflektive is offering a webinar to learn about Zendesk’s award-winning CSR program, which contributes to its business on a variety of fronts. Please join us to learn how CSR drives a competitive edge in a global context, and how to make the case for a CSR program at your organization.