Millennials have begun having an effect on the business world, and one of the most interesting is with a dedicated focus on finding a social purpose in their work. While many executives are concentrating on P&L statements, their younger employees are evaluating their jobs and their employers based on meaning as well as financial health and stability.
This idea that companies could serve a social purpose, or influence meaningful change while they make a profit is newer, and sometimes overlooked by those who also answer to shareholders. But the business world is learning that if you want to hire and retain Millennials, a focus on social purpose is a distinction that can add longevity, loyalty, and satisfaction for your employees, all of which does save your organization money.
Millennial or not, if it’s important to you as a job-seeker, how can you identify a company that meets this need? A little research or a few questions at the end of your interview can show you if the employer is a good fit with your values. Remember, not all organizations approach this idea the same way:
Some organizations are treating social purpose as a benefit. Do you love to volunteer with animal rescue organizations, or are you working to elect a candidate to political office? There are a growing number of companies offering time to volunteer in the charity of your choice, just as they offer sick days. You choose your own purpose, and your employer supports that choice by giving you paid time, or permission to take unpaid leave, to do that work. Smaller corporations may offer access to CSAs or match annual donations up to a certain amount.
Employers are choosing a signature charity or set of charities. They then include fundraising, volunteer days, or other “good works” to benefit that charity to be a part of their corporate culture and work life. Other employers allow a committee of employees and management to guide company donations of funds, time, or in-kind donations…or guide the efforts to fold social purpose into business (see below).
A surprising number of companies are folding social purpose into everyday business. These organizations are including thoughtful, social purpose into the way they run. Using Fair Trade or sustainably harvested raw product, committing to choose third-world suppliers who pay a certain wage or who have safety protocols in place, or manage logistics in an eco-friendly manner.
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