Just Workplaces and Millennials

Just Workplaces and Millennials

from December 2017 An African American Point of View

All things Millennial continues to be a fascination in the US.  I know my board likes to talk about Millennials and what they think or want.  My Millennial niece hates reading about “what Millenials think or want.”  Managers are trying to figure out how to manage them and retain them.  Non-profits want to know how to get their attention, money, and volunteer time.    Now for the bait and switch, this article is not about Millennials, per se.  The focus is more on just workplaces and corporate social responsibility.  Here’s the Millennial tie-in—Millenials strongly value working for employers that align with their values, but they aren’t the only ones.

According to a recent survey by Just Capital, 79 percent of Americans said they would take a pay cut to work for a just company.  How an organization treats their workers ranked above all issues and stakeholders—like the environment, customers, products, or communities.  With a tightening labor market and continued stagnation of wages, it is telling that today’s workers prioritize working for a “good” business over increased wages.  People want companies to treat people like human beings.

Wait, we don’t have to pay people more, just treat them better?!  Maybe you’re already doing that but not telling anyone.  This is a great opportunity for organizations to tout their corporate social responsibility to attract and retain workers.  Costco was able to distinguish itself early for providing better pay and benefits while Walmart continues to garner negative opinions for its practices.  In a time with increased transparency and sharing through social media, it behooves organizations to be good corporate citizens.  It is much harder to hide unjust practices or poor work environments today.

There are many examples in this region of companies that are just to their employees and the community.  We are seeing more organizations that are aligning their corporate social responsibility efforts with employee values and concerns.  Millennials, in particular, want to bring their whole selves to work and not compartmentalize their community involvement from their workplace.  Yet many organizations have “their causes” that they give to or volunteer at.  These practices are becoming less-attractive to younger workers.  Leading-edge companies are allowing their workers to lead their volunteerism and giving efforts.  This is bad news for the United Way and they are seeing it around the country with flat fundraising when overall giving is increasing.  In alignment with employee-trends, MassMutual recently created an employee-driven philanthropy campaign.  They allow employees to designate the issue focus of their employee-giving campaign.

In an information-rich age where individuals can go-viral and everything is DIY, employees want to be seen as individuals.  Our technology and attitudes have broken down the separation between home and office.  Successful organizations must address their workplace practices, to create just and inclusive places that value their employees and transmit that value out into our communities.  Those that don’t will have trouble attracting younger workers and customers, and might be in the crosshairs of a viral, social media tirade.  Ultimately, we all win when our companies are good neighbors and treat their employees well.