Attracting and Retaining a Younger Workforce

The impact of corporate social responsibility on the next generation of government employees.
September 12, 2017 AT 11:00 AM
Millennials care more about their employer's social responsibility than other generations, and governments should take note. David Kidd

Millennials want more responsibility than you think.

Economist Milton Friedman was well known for his views that a company’s sole responsibility should be to increase its profits, and that there should be no responsibility to the public or society.

But according to a Millennial Employee Engagement Study conducted by Boston-based Cone Communications, the notion of separation between business and social responsibility is not only a thing of the past, but quickly becoming something to which both companies and governments need to pay attention. Millennials will make up half of the nation’s workforce in the next few years, making it increasingly important for employers to know how to recruit and retain them.

The study found that a company’s social and environmental commitments will impact where millennials decide to work, their loyalty to their workplace and how fulfilled they are in their work. And when compared to U.S. averages, the study showed that though the majority of those surveyed believe corporate social responsibility (CSR) is important, it is significantly more important to millennials.

Sixty-four percent of millennials said they won’t work for a company that doesn't have strong CSR commitments, versus 51 percent of the aggregate workforce. In addition, 75 percent of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a company with strong CSR commitments, versus 55 percent of the aggregate. Clearly, CSR is something that all employees should be considering, whether it is a large corporation, small local store or the government.

Corporate social responsibility describes how a corporation chooses to positively impact society beyond what is required by laws or regulations. These efforts could include finding ways to reduce a company’s environmental footprint, engaging employees in community volunteer efforts and donating money to good causes. Local and state governments, who should be trying to attract and engage millennials, should pay attention and learn some lessons from CSR initiatives in the private sector.

So how can governments make themselves more attractive to millennials?

Start by incorporating a set of values and commitments into both a retention strategy and communication plan. Having and articulating a commitment to social and environmental causes is a good place to start.

Engage both the public and employees in ideas for initiatives. Employees want to be asked for their input and it is easier to implement an initiative when there is buy-in from employees from the get-go.

Make sure there is a good communication system in place. Especially if the focus is making an impact, employers want to know what difference they are making and that the employer values that. Social media is also important, especially for millennials.

Governments don’t have to give millions to charity, or have major global initiatives, but harnessing the power of employees -- who are already in the business of serving the public -- is a great way to create a positive working environment, attract talent and be good stewards. Both government and the people and communities it serves will benefit.