June 18, 2014

Volunteer Opportunities Help Employers Attract Talent, Report Says

Source: The 2014 Millennial Impact Report

Well-articulated company policies on giving and volunteerism help employers attract and retain young talent, according to a new survey.

The 2014 Millennial Impact Report by Achieve, a consulting firm, surveyed 1,500 employed millennials—people between the ages of 20 and 34. About a third of respondents said that their companies’ volunteer policies affected their decision to apply for a job, 39 percent said that it influenced their decision to interview, and 55 percent said that such policies played into their decision to accept an offer.

"We are seeing much more of this work-life blending model where millennials are blending who they are, what they do, what they stand for, and the causes and things they care about into the workplace," says Derrick Feldmann, president of Achieve.

The survey was sponsored by the Case Foundation and builds on four years of research. While past reports focused on how millennials engage directly in causes, the present research, which continues, takes a different direction. Tagged "Inspiring the Next Generation Workforce," the report released today centers on the intersection of millennials, their employers, and employer-driven volunteer work, including how such work can help attract and retain talent.

Employers in sectors in which competition for qualified candidates is ferocious, such as technology, can differentiate themselves by communicating volunteer and giving opportunities during the recruitment and interview process.

The researchers found that millennial employees respond best when they are given an array of different ways to engage in a cause, from simple social-media activities to paid sabbaticals for volunteer work. Millennials regard donating their skills and time to a cause as equivalent to writing a check.

When it comes to building an office culture of engagement, companywide volunteer days may not be enough. Sixty-two percent of survey respondents said they prefer to do volunteer work with people in their departments, while 39 percent said they prefer to volunteer with people they do not work with daily.

"The role of the individual department, that small unit, has a lot of influence and it has a lot of interest by the millennial, more than the company as a whole," Mr. Feldmann says.

Employers need to look to a three-pronged approach, focusing on opportunities across the company, within departments, and at an individual level, the report concludes.

Emily Yu, vice president of marketing and partnerships for the Case Foundation, points out that the demographic numbers are at a tipping point, with members of the millennial generation set to make up 50-percent of the work force by 2020. As their share of the office increases, their behaviors and tastes will become the norm.

The findings come from two online surveys with a total of 1,500 participants. One was administered in partnership with corporate employers who distributed it among their millennial employees; the second was a survey of millennial employees at 300 companies and organizations in the United States recruited through a variety of means, Mr. Feldmann says. During the next 12 months, Achieve will release additional components of its research, including the findings from user testing and a focus group.

Send an e-mail to Megan O’Neil.