For millennial professionals, culture is an extremely important consideration when deciding to join an organization. It is, therefore, a significant challenge for employers to live up to the expectations of a young, socially conscious workforce. The millennial workforce, comprising a majority of the job market in India, seeks meaning and holistic fulfillment from jobs, instead of perceiving them as merely a means of earning a living. In fact, millennials increasingly expect their jobs to provide them a sense of purpose, and are becoming mindful of their potential employers’ stance on major social issues.
Millennials experience great joy when they directly serve the needy, the smiles they receive in return and the instantaneous connect to human emotions that non-profits provide exhilarates them. Hence, they like to be involved in direct volunteering activities like serving food in the community kitchen or helping at medical & disaster relief camps in carrying and attending to the patients, or distribution of relief materials for affected victims. Millennials are a demographic that wants to be heard and expect their employers to echo their ideals. This ultimately also influences their choice of employer, a fact substantiated by various studies.
For instance, during a survey conducted in the US among young professionals, 78 percent respondents said that CSR directly influences the organization they would work for. In India, organizations like Mahindra & Mahindra, the TATA Group, and Reliance Industries are amongst the most prolific companies when it comes to CSR. They have committed a large number of resources to causes such as education, health, sanitation, skill building, and providing equal opportunities for women in society and industry. This, in turn, has led them to being among the most sought after organizations millennials want to work for.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and employee engagement
The millennial workforce is characterized by its innovative bent of mind and ideas, energy, and fresh perspective to the world around. When channelized effectively, the values, energy, and abilities of these young professionals can be driven towards solving critical social issues. Startups are using AI and analytics tools to obtain the interests of the employees and appropriately match nonprofits working in their geographical areas of interest. For example, an employee at a company in Bangalore may be from Hospet which is close to Hampi, a UNESCO site. While she stays at Bangalore, she may be keen on supporting art preservation and therefore likely to for a nonprofit working at Hampi.
The emergence of newer technologies and the power of social media have all contributed to getting the current generation to play an active part within the society. Companies that leverage the abilities and intellect of their millennial workforce are well positioned to strengthen their stance as socially responsible organizations. At the same time, they can build a strong and highly engaged workforce by translating their values as an organization to benefit.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is probably the most effective way an organization can fulfill its responsibility towards the community it operates in. It is imperative for companies to be mindful of the social, economic, and environmental impact of their business, but more importantly, to contribute to the community through constructive efforts. The most effectual way to do this is to incorporate CSR into the company’s business strategy, and not approaching it as mere rhetoric. CSR is not just an activity that’s ‘nice to do’. It is, in fact, an investment towards building a stronger brand that can reap rich dividends for the organization in the long run.
Along with an enthusiastic, committed, and socially responsible workforce, companies are also gradually realizing the several benefits that come with engaging employees in their CSR efforts. Employee participation does not just help in creating a thriving community and powerful brand but also helps individuals leverage their skill sets for the greater good. Through their HR policies as well as CSR practices, these companies may also mandate the areas and associates that employees can work on. However, this might limit their avenues for active participation and continual involvement in the causes. To address this concern, companies are encouraging employees to volunteer and become active stakeholders in the company’s growth story. According to a study conducted by the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada, employees working for companies with strong CSR policies are 20% more likely to be satisfied in their jobs and remain engaged with the organization for a longer time.
It has been seen that volunteering often helps employees discover, and hone their leadership and people skills. Some companies may even extend matching grants to non-profits for causes their employees support and contribute resources towards the same. Startups also realize individuals may want to not just contribute but also volunteer for several activities of the Nonprofit. Someone may be just able to give their 2 hours on a weekend to teach young kids but may have limitations on distance. Startups match volunteers not just on broad causes they are interested in but also the right skills and interests. In order to create stronger CSR teams, a number of companies are also helping employees develop specific skills sets, like finance or marketing, to execute better CSR programs, while also helping social development organizations improve their operations.
The need for a robust framework powered by technology
Even though companies across the country are taking a proactive approach to CSR as well as promoting employee engagement in social causes, they often face challenges owing to a rudimentary system that captures only expenditures, but not the quality of outcomes and impact. From executing and monitoring programs to meeting reporting requirements, CFOs and CSR teams face several challenges.
There is an urgent need for a robust framework to address these challenges. In order to combat the same, companies are now directing their CSR and employee-led volunteer projects to leverage technology. Tech-driven solutions offered by emerging digital marketplaces and platforms for the social sector are bringing together the key stakeholders of the social sector for proactive engagement and access to resources that social development organizations may not have. Such tech-enabled mobile and cloud-based platforms have emerged as a novel and impactful solution through integration of tech-driven interventions in the way they function, to provide avenues for discovery and engagement of social causes and effective execution of the projects.
Moreover, these marketplaces also help with other critical aspects of executing impactful CSR programs. These include credible associations, planning, monitoring implementation, budget optimization, efficient resource allocation, and augmented beneficiary reporting. Besides this, the tech-driven solution allows accurate assessment and estimation of impact, while ensuring transparency throughout the process.
Tech-enabled, digital solutions allow easier campaigning, higher reach, and better impact, not just for CSR projects but also for employee-led volunteer programs. Moreover, such platforms also allow companies to efficiently execute the outcome-driven project, along with a detailed assessment of the quality of outcomes without the need for any additional investments. By leveraging such frameworks, companies can drive better CSR projects, while ensuring greater employee engagement in social causes of importance to a fast-growing millennial workforce.