Retaining talent is critical to your bottom line, given the high cost – not to mention the time spent and lost productivity, of turnover.

Retaining talent via community service initiatives

Photo via Spartenberg Chamber of Commerce, Flickr

And as Noelle Knox and Maxwell Murphy write in “More Firms Use Charitable Programs as a Recruiting Tool,” CFOs say community service initiatives can help attract young job candidates. It can also help ensure they stay with your company.

That becomes more important every day. 

“There are an estimated 80 million young Americans who belong to the so-called millennial generation, roughly ages 18 to 35. By next year, they are expected to comprise 36% of the U.S. workforce, and by 2020, millennials will be nearly half of all workers.”

That’s from “7 Surprising Ways To Motivate Millennial Workers,” by Forbes staffer Jenna Goudreau. She continues:

“While millennials are the most educated and culturally diverse of any generation before them, they’re also notorious job-hoppers who dislike bureaucracy and distrust traditional hierarchies—leaving many business leaders scratching their heads. What motivates this rising cohort? How do you keep them engaged, earn their trust and get the most out them?”

One surprisingly easy way of retaining talent is to prioritize community service. A Pew Research study finds that millennials place a higher priority on helping people in need (21%) than having a high-paying career (15%), Goudreau writes. 

She cites Dan Epstein, CEO of business consultancy ReSource Pro with a staff of 90% millennials.

“Allowing employees to form committees and use company resources or time to organize their causes meets their desire for social consciousness. Whether it’s weekends with Habitat for Humanity or time off to run in charity marathons, the company’s encouragement helps them feel good about the company. ‘In order to tap into their creative energy,’ Epstein says, ‘we need to be respectful of the things they care about.’”

Microsoft uses that strategy for retaining talent, notes Taylor Soper in “Microsoft sees charitable efforts as key recruiting tool for young talent.”

According to Soper, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, says “he ‘frequently’ hears from young interns and employees that Microsoft’s broad citizenship efforts are part of what people find attractive about the company.

‘The opportunity to work on great products and services is hugely important and always will be,” he says, ‘but they also really value the broader connections that a company has in the community.’”

 Microsoft publicizes its efforts prominently on its website.

“Each year, Microsoft matches contributions to all eligible nonprofits up to $12,000 per employee, as well as volunteer time at $17 per hour. On Thursday, the company passed $1 billion in donations to over 31,000 nonprofit and community organizations since the Giving Campaign’s inception in 1983.”

Google does the same, posting:

“Giving begins in the places where we live and work. We support local nonprofits in their efforts to make our neighborhoods and schools cleaner, safer and smarter.”

And also, “Each year we donate $100,000,000 in grants, 60,000 hours, $1 billion in products.”

Millennials are different, no doubt about it,” writes corporate trainer Bruce Mayhew in “How to Motivate Millennials.”

“They cannot be defined in general terms as we’ve often been able to get away with when speaking about Boomers and Gen Xers… but good people from any generation can be good employees if motivated.”

Well said. To retain young talent, we have to motivate them in ways meaningful to them.

For more great ideas on motivating all employees and building a great workplace, download our FREE ebook, “The Ultimate Guide to Employee Gift-Giving” now.

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