It’s known that there are no precise dates on the start and end of a generation yet we all believe that ours is the Millennial Generation or the Gen Y – a generation unmistakably known for its pragmatic ambitions, inviolable courage to follow passion, and an unflinching desire towards changing the world.
As millennials accelerate the workforce with mind-sets to create, inspire, and lead ideas to execution, the biggest challenge many corporations face today is retaining them. The State of American Workplace Report 2013 states that only 30 percent of this workforce is ever truly invested, accounting for over 60% loss in productivity in the organization. While the trend holds true for most corporate cultures, companies such as Google continue to stay “young”, grow exponentially and sustain innovativeness within and beyond. In India, companies recognized as “Great Places to Work” distinguish themselves on this unique attribute - creating an environment of emotional engagement that propels employees to become their most efficient and productive selves.
This leaves us with only one question – what’s a good way to get our millennials truly engaged? Introducing ‘Social Impact’ in the corporate culture is one answer. A corporation’s association with a good cause does not only differentiate it’s brand quotient among its consumers and competitors but also goes a long way in engaging employees better, by enabling them to witness a real sense of impact through their jobs. Initiatives such as Employee Payroll Giving, volunteering, and organization-led charity marathons help employees challenge themselves in more ways than one to break organizational silos and facilitate collective impact by making participation urgent and necessary. When corporations give employees the opportunities to realize their personal impact outside their work, employees associate more with one another and become more socially loyal to their jobs.
In India although the Tata group led this behaviour, since the early 2000s, with the advent of Corporate Philanthropy programs brought by United Way, Charities Aid Foundation CAF, and GiveIndia, we saw many more companies taking conscious efforts to maximize their cause associations as means to enhance their sustainability objectives across people, planet, and progress. Such programs enable employees to choose how and in what regard they could act to make a difference, thus democratizing choice and enabling flexibility in making decisions, owning initiative, and contributing to the reality of social causes. While multinationals such as Vodafone, Duetsche Bank, and Deloitte have largely realized their global social impact measures through cause orientations such as World of Difference, Trade for a Cause and Impact Day, Indian corporate groups such as Mahindra and Piramal have independently structured their own frameworks through foundations and fellowships that have empowered the youth within and beyond organizations to actualize action to the call.
Off-late, the Corporate Social Responsibility mandate has tightened this focus even more and while the debate continues on whether it’s good or bad a spend for the company, the scope to encourage channels of greater employee engagement is certainly a blessing for most Gen Y oriented corporations.