Charity initiatives, not trendy offices, boost employee morale
6 min read
19 September 2017
Trendy workspaces and fatter pay packs might once have been enough to secure workplace loyalty, but no more.
Generation Y – those born between 1980 and 1994 – now comprise much of our workforce and they have different, more idealistic expectations, including charity initiatives.
Indeed, they crave constant personal development and responsibility, with 84 per cent of them considering it their duty to make the world a better place. They’re collaborative and, perhaps most importantly, they’re more loyal to principles than to people – the boss included.
If we’re to keep this talent engaged, we’re under pressure as employers to pay more than lip service to our commitment to making a positive impact on the world – to do corporate good.
It’s a mentality that drastically juxtaposes the baby boomer and Generation X “clock in, clock out” mentality. To get the best out of all generations, we need to prioritise charity initiatives and engagement.
Companies that actively team up with external charity initiatives and even run their own are able to set themselves apart from their competitors when it comes to the fight for talent.
The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey reinforces why companies should be meeting the ethical demands of our young workforce. Almost three quarters of millennials expect to leave their current job in the next five years, with less than five per cent thinking that profit-focussed values will ensure long-term success.
In Deloitte’s 2017 edition of the survey, it transpires that millennials do believe that charity initiatives will fulfil them and make a real impact on the world, with internal charities being the most popular choice.
The reason for this is simple. It feels good to not just know you’re making a difference, but to actually see it. Both employees and employers are doing something brilliant. It’s more than just working “for the man”.
Workplace-driven charity initiatives build positive, inclusive cultures – we’re all integrating for a good cause, regardless of job title.
At OLIVER, we have our own company charity, Oliver & Learn. It has one mission: to alleviate poverty by supporting education in disadvantaged communities around the world. It sponsors 11 schools in the rural Kianjai region of Kenya, supporting students once they graduate and also helping the community improve their farming techniques.
By having something like this in place, employees see the name and they’re more likely to be proud of where they work.
Alongside Oliver & Learn, OLIVER established Giving Back Day: an initiative in partnership with Volunteering Matters, a charity which helped us understand how we could make the biggest difference by giving of our time closer to home and partnering with the right charity initiatives.
After all, we’re increasingly giving our time through volunteering and online sharing, so why not capitalise on that?
We held our first Giving Back Day last year in support of the Shaw Trust: a charity which helps get unemployed people from all walks of life back into work. We then paired an OLIVER worker with a Shaw Trust client. Together, they get to the root cause of why the latter is unemployed and what can be done to change that.
It’s not a patronising nor condescending affair, rather a helping hand being extended to job seekers. One participant, Muhammed, was an employable candidate on paper – he had volunteer experience, a previous role as a teaching assistant and BTECs in Security and Hospitality. But due to circumstances, he was apathetic and shy.
Muhammed’s OLIVER partner spent a day with him and helped him rework his CV, highlighting what he’d achieved rather than what his duties were. He was encouraged to add his interests – it turns out he was a massive fan of Japanese Manga cartoons. Time was dedicated to working on his confidence and interview skills: important factors that can be easily neglected.
When taken to a job fair, Muhammed wasn’t sheepish. He flourished, heading straight for the desks, chatting with employers and handing out his CV until he had none left.
Helping people makes us feel good. Not so we can look like saints to our peers, but because we should strive to improve the lives of those who need it most. The comparatively small step of helping with Muhammed’s job prep was an achievable goal that bettered everyone involved. And, seeing as those born between 1980 and 2000 are the least likely age group to donate actual cash to charity, this kind of engagement goes a long way.
Ultimately, the launch of charity initiatives drives brings people across all sectors closer together, building trust and transparency from the top down, while serving a greater purpose. It also helps engage the workforce, showing them that the concept of giving back matters to the company.
It might’ve taken the millennial upheaval for us to fully address the issue, but it’s something we can no longer ignore. Whether it be through internal or external parties, measured by funds raised or skills gained, charity initiatives improve your business and the world around you.
You can’t afford to pass that up, can you?
Sharon Whale is CEO at OLIVER Group UK