How Socially Responsible Companies Are Wooing Millennials

Who would have imagined, only a decade or two ago, that our workplace would turn into such a mammoth multi-cultural and multi-generational environment? And who would have thought, upon seeing that storm rushing at us from the distance, that Millennials would by 2020 evolve into half of all employees worldwide?

It’s all true: The Pew Research Center has it that as of 2016, one in three employees in the US alone was a millennial, i.e. someone age 18 to 36. And according to Forbes, in the next ten years, the workforce will be comprised almost entirely of millennials.

Other Compelling Facts about Millenials

Here are a few interesting findings in regard to this generation, courtesy of the National Chamber Foundation (NCF):

  1. Where they go for news: In clear signs of the times, millennials’ main sources of news are television (65%) and the web (59%); less so are newspapers (24%), and radio (18%).
  2. Their buying power: It is estimated that US millennials have $200 billion in direct purchasing power and another $500 billion of indirect spending, due mostly to their influence on their baby boomer parents; their peak buying power is still decades away.
  3. Lifelong consumers: Brands know it’s critical to latch on to lifelong relationships with millennials; on the flip side of that however, if a brand loses the confidence of this group of consumers, it is almost impossible to gain it back.
  4. Their choice of employers: It is clear that recruiting them goes well beyond providing free all-day snacks, ping-pong tables, play areas for toddlers, and unlimited vacation time.
  5. Corporate missions: While companies used to strive to do well, they are now compelled to do good. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the new norm, particularly in the tech and other fields that depend largely on millennial employees.

The whitepaper by Ed Lugo, of Alliance Resource Group, ‘The iGen Everything Train is Coming, But Are You Ready?’ delves even deeper into the makeup and behaviors of the iGen employee.

Employers with Social Responsibilities

There are several factors employers are currently battling with. To start with, unemployment is at a multi-year low, with companies struggling as never before to fill jobs with the right talent. That talent is also quick to quit and go elsewhere the minute they get disappointed with their employer, and replacing them implies a new merry-go-round of finding, screening, interviewing, and hoping for the best.

The savvier employers have however been adapting fast, connecting employees with the company’s values.

Millennials are nevertheless quick to spot when these value-based strategies are genuine. They like to think that their employer’s corporate responsibility guides the choices that are made on a daily basis, that it is embedded in their culture and in many of their processes, and that it ultimately drives their company’s success.

Belonging to Mission-Driven Cultures

To illustrate how that may work, if a company is associated with an anti-poverty movement, millennial employees would cherish belonging to a culture that presses for new initiatives for fighting hunger, homelessness, or other manifestations of poverty. And they would particularly love to share in stories, images and videos on platforms that the employer might provide.

Google makes for a great depiction of that. Besides being the dominant search engine in the world, and offering such popular platforms as Google+, Gmail, and the browser Chrome, they are also widely known for espousing the culture of leaving behind as clean a carbon footprint as they can muster. Not only do they recycle materials feverishly, but this cause is also manifest in their processes and Data Centers.

Value-Driven Consumer Brands

According to a large study of 276 consumer brands and 1,135 consumers conducted for IBM by Econsultancy, 80% of consumers stated that the average brand doesn’t understand them as an individual. This may perhaps explain why more than 73% of shoppers abandon a brand’s shopping cart without making a purchase.

In a frenzied attempt to combat that, the trend is for companies to look to make values the centerpiece of their business—something that can lure a faithful and long-term following particularly among millennials.

In a report by Nielsen on millennial shopping habits, a good part of their current $200 billion a year in spending goes to brands they feel are making a difference, whether in their community or on a wider landscape.

Millennials also want to know that the claims a brand makes are for real. Here is what one twenty-something consumer had to say about his purchasing attitudes:

“Above all, I value transparency in a brand. Over the years, I have never purchased something I viewed on television, nor have I ever clicked on a banner ad while shopping on the web. I need to get to know a brand and what it really stands for, and I need to trust in that its reviews are genuine and unbiased.”

Examples of Successful Value-Driven Workplaces:

There are literally hundreds or thousands of companies that have benefited considerably from espousing a worthwhile social cause. Here are just a few examples of well-known brands:

  • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is renowned for cause-marketing, donating to various charitable causes
  • Uber campaign successfully with their “Mothers Against Drunk Driving” cause
  • When GoDaddy CEO shot and killed an elephant in Africa, competitors Namecheap and Curata both campaigned with some of their proceeds going to elephant conservation
  • And Liberty Mutual had a long-standing and successful association with the Special Olympics

Lastly, Why Value-Based Culture Works

Apart from the fact that this kind of commitment often results in your employees and partners also feeling gratified, there is a plethora of reasons why millennials as employees flock to purpose-driven brands. The lessons for employers are undeniable:

To start with, by creating a sense of awareness and kinship, cause-driven efforts humanizes your company’s brand internally and externally, thus creating enhanced leads, sales, and long-term loyalty. It also gives you something other than your product or service to craft content about, including imagery, storylines, and audio and video material.

You can finally be reactive with what is currently going on with your cause, and it is also feasible that you might get some free PR from the cause or charity you embrace, while perhaps partnering with other brands to benefit common goals—all in all a neat package.

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    Dina El Kharouf
    Dina Elk, Marketer at Sify eLearning

    As a leader in education, customer service, and marketing in the e-learning and EduTech industries, she has a breadth of knowledge that covers e-learning, learning management systems, instructional design, curriculum, customer service, business development, marketing and staff development.

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