How to Attract and Retain Millennials Through CSR Efforts

In August, TCC donated 100,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to students throughout our local communities.
In August, TCC donated 100,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to students in our local community. Choosing a community-centered project like this may be the key to retaining top talent. 

By Ryan McCarty

By the year 2020, millennials are expected to make up half of the U.S. workforce. While they are often thought of as the ‘selfie’ generation, their work habits reveal an incredible selflessness. In fact, a recent study reveals that a whopping 70 percent of millennials say that a company’s commitment to its local community would influence their decision to work there.

In today’s workplace, millennials have come to expect employers to support good causes. Oftentimes, they’ll accept a job offer or even leave a job based on an employer’s impact on the local community (or lack thereof). This generational shift in attitude regarding corporate social responsibility (CSR) is prompting many organizations to develop community partnerships and refocus their own values. A meaningful CSR program is quickly becoming the newest way to recruit and retain today’s new generation of workers.

Creating a culture of good

At TCC, an overwhelming 85 percent of our employees — which are spread across 38 states — are millennials. With that in mind, we decided to focus our CSR efforts on the types of charities and volunteer efforts this demographic is most interested in supporting.

Research from Boston Consulting Group found that millennials are huge proponents of “buying local” and want to shop at, work for and engage with companies that share their value for social responsibility. Through TCC’s Culture of Good, we decided to devote our time and resources to the local communities where our employees live and work. As a result, we have found that we are creating a better sense of job fulfillment that millennials crave.

Capped off by a $1 million donation for a children’s hospital, 2015 was a banner year for the Culture of Good CSR program at TCC. Other company-wide Culture of Good initiatives in 2015 included:

  1. Teachers Rock Supply Giveaway: In February, TCC donated school supply packs filled with glue, pencils, pens, markers, erasers, paper, tissue boxes and more to 3,500 teachers located in the communities where we do business.
  2. Heal the World: From April-June, we partnered with Alliance for Community Trees to get involved with local organizations that care for the environment. TCC employees nationwide assisted in tree planting, mulching, picking up trash and more—all to improve the environment.
  3. School Rocks Backpack Giveaway: In August, TCC donated 100,000 backpacks filled with school supplies to students throughout our local communities.
  4. Stop the Hunger: In November and December, more than 550 TCC stores collected nearly 7.8 tons of canned and boxed foods from customers and community members and donated them to local partnering food banks.

In total, the Culture of Good committed $1.2 million in 2015 to these employee-empowered efforts.

Building a meaningful CSR program

To ensure that your organization’s CSR program truly fosters community engagement, it’s important that the proper legwork is put in before and after a program is implemented. The below steps can help guide your CSR program to success:

  1. Brainstorm and define organizational values. Ensure that giving back is at the foundation of your company’s culture and core values. Once these values have been established, a CSR program will simply become an extension of company intentions.
  2. Research causes and charities that may already be close to your employees’ hearts and find out if there are any area organizations supporting this common mission. At TCC, we found that employees are more apt to support and become excited about a local cause where they can actually see their impact.
  3. Be transparent about goals and the thought process behind the CSR program that you are implementing. Progress made in terms of both dollar amounts and employee sentiment should be well documented and used to asses a program’s success. Millennials will feel validated by knowing their input was taken into account and that their company provides them with an avenue to give back.
  4. Evaluate your program over time and adjust it accordingly based on employee feedback. Any CSR program implemented should serve to make a notable and equal impact on both your employees and the local community. If implemented correctly, it will create a sense of job fulfillment and reaffirm employee beliefs that their company shares their personal values.

TCC recently surveyed nearly 1,000 of our employees about the impact of the Culture of Good initiatives and discovered the following correlations between CSR efforts and employee fulfillment:

  • 92 percent said that the Culture of Good gives them a sense of fulfillment in their work.
  • 91 percent said the Culture of Good makes them feel that Round Room (TCC’s parent company) shares their value for social responsibility.
  • 84 percent said the Culture of Good contributes to staying employed by TCC.
  • 67 percent said that their store has gained new customers as a result of Culture of Good efforts.
  • 82 percent said the Culture of Good has helped build better communication skills between employees and helped form stronger team bonds in the workplace.

Thinking outside the box

Organizations may also benefit from coming up with unique ways to reward millennials for their philanthropic spirit. Volunteer time off (VTO) policies are a growing trend among businesses committed to doing CSR programs the right way. Companies that allow VTO typically recruit and retain ambitious employees. Giving your employees volunteer opportunities as part of their jobs builds loyalty toward your company and makes them grateful to work somewhere with a strong community mindset.

TCC, for example, encourages employees to take up to 16 hours of paid time off each year to volunteer during work hours or on days off. In addition, each store is given $600 per year to dedicate to a local organization of their choice. Stores and departments have done holiday outreaches, food donations, given winter clothing, care baskets for new moms, military care packs and more.

In addition, it is important to give employees the opportunity to hold leadership positions within CSR programs. By creating positions for millennials to organize and maintain community relations efforts, companies not only fuel a passion that already exists, but help to develop leadership skills that will be valuable to the company down the road. Allow your most dedicated employees to foster new ideas, communicate CSR opportunities to fellow employees and ensure philanthropy remains a significant part of corporate culture.

Above all else: Remember to do good onto others for the value of the investment, not the return on investment.

Image courtesy of TCC

Ryan McCarty is the director of community and employee engagement at TCC. Founded in 1991 and based in Carmel, Indiana, TCC is the largest Verizon Premium Wireless Retailer in the U.S., operating more than 700 locations in 38 states from coast to coast. The company is guided by its Virtuous Circle of Success—a belief that employees, customers and communities matter equally. TCC’s nationally-recognized Culture of Good movement encourages employees to give back in every community it serves. 

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One response

  1. Thanks for sharing the great advice. Looking forward to seeing CSR engagement with workers become a more mainstream employee benefit.

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