Last week, I attended a networking event in which I was asked why my business is booming. I work with small- to mid-sized companies that are interested in figuring out how to “do good” in the community. More often than not, I advise these companies to stop sponsoring events, and, instead, “give back” by focusing on their bottom line. Grow their businesses. Treat their employees well. Leverage the talents of their team members so that they feel valued. That will help them to want to stay with the company longer. That results in less turnover and substantial money saved for the company. Then they can start thinking about how to make a more meaningful impact in the community.
But why is business booming now? Because Millennials are demanding that companies offer volunteer policies and get involved with social causes. This 2014 Millennial Impact Report will provide more insights, but the company culture that Millennials are seeking is presenting a conundrum for a number of companies. Despite the recovering economy, most companies cannot afford to give their employees time off to participate in companywide volunteer days, or support pro bono projects, or to go off on weeks-long sabbaticals to help communities in crises on the other side of the world. But for those companies that are not offering “social impact opportunities,” they may be losing out on top-notch talent. It is an evolving workforce, and one in which companies have to be ready to respond. This means taking a look at their corporate social responsibility strategy and determining if it’s the right one for their company. It means understanding the ROI they are seeking and how to embed it within their company culture. This will soon be the norm since Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020. Those forward-thinking companies that expect to be thriving in 6 years are preparing now, and they’re the smart ones.