We discussed in a few occasions in the past Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Sustainable Development and Fair Trade as being at the roots of many today’s successful brands:
They attract new customers, retain existing ones and appeal to the best talents out there while being a high employees motivational tool.
No wonder why all Fortune 500 companies advocate CSR so strongly!
Of all, Millennials (also called Generation Y) feel the most concerned by environmental issues.
A great majority of the youngest among the global taskforce dream of making a big impact on the people and environments around them.
They are even willing to take a pay cut to get a job that will let them do that!
Even with lower pay, those who have found such a job are twice as satisfied at work as those who haven't.
These are some of the most significant findings of a report published in 2012 by Net Impact, an organization whose members largely reflect the aspirations of these young workers.
Unfortunately, this report was never repeated in the following years, which would have allowed us to study relevant trends over a longer period of time.
The report describes Millennials as a new generation determined to use their careers to solve the world's greatest challenges.
By doing so, "they show the world that it's possible to make a net impact that benefits not just the bottom line, but people and planet too."
The findings of the report, "Talent Report: What Workers Want in 2012" are interesting:
This report now attaches some essential numbers to sentiments that had previously been nothing more than anecdotal.
Researchers surveyed 1,726 respondents via an independent research organization with the demographics skewed heavy toward Millennials.
While a quarter of the respondents were in college, 47% were Millennials and the rest consisted of Generation X and (Baby) Boomers.
Those in school were asked about the work they aspired to, while the rest were asked about their work, their work satisfaction and what they valued.
Of those working, 24% worked in the government sector, 32% worked for a large company, 22% worked for a small company, 14% worked in the nonprofit sector and 7% were self-employed or chose to answer "other."
The majority across all generations (70%) agreed that they have a personal responsibility to make things better for the world they live in, rather than leaving it to others.
Impact jobs are more rewarding
The survey found that "impact" jobs have a direct correlation with overall job satisfaction.
The concept of an impact career is fascinating. This is the most significant finding of the report:
Workers who can make a social and environmental impact on the job are most satisfied by a margin of 2:1.
Among all workers, 46% of those who both have and want the opportunity to make a difference at work are very satisfied with their jobs.
For workers who don't have that opportunity but want it, just 18% report being very satisfied with their jobs.
Net Impact' report defines "impact careers" as being able to make some positive social or environmental difference through their work.
Those taking the survey were a representative sample of individuals in the USA and Western European countries, and not necessarily ‘green activist’ or Net Impact members.
For them, an impact career includes service, such as service to their immediate environment or service to future generations.
Millennials want to make a difference
In Western countries, Millennials have had social and environmental education indoctrinated into their core being.
While they often have the reputation of being narcissistic and egocentric, the Net Impact report shows that they care greatly about impact careers.
Actually, 59% of Millennials wish (‘essential’ or ‘very important’) to get / work for a job that can make a difference compared to approximately 50% for older respondents.
Students are open to sacrifice themselves (within limits!)
Students are more idealistic, the report says.
72% believe that a job where they can make an impact is a ‘top of the list’ life goal; this answer comes even before having children, money or a prestigious career!
All things considered, they are ready to take a 15% pay-cut to get the job they think is right:
• 35% are willing to take a 15% pay-cut to work for a company committed to CSR
• 45% would make that sacrifice for a job that makes a positive social and environmental impact
• 58% would agree to get a lesser salary to work for an organization whose values are in-line with their own.
The report gets even more interesting – recruiters and companies should pay close attention – when it says that students…
To summarize the report’s findings, Millennials – more than any older generation – expect more from the company they work for than a paycheck.
They expect to have a positive impact through their jobs and they don't see their personal and professional lives as two distinct entities.
They expect business to be responsible - and they are willing to take a pay cut to align with the companies that are.
Too many companies still think that employees’ loyalty can be bought.
It was never entirely true with Boomers and Generation X, they wanted money (Gen X more than Boomers actually) but they were expecting a lot more – recognition for instance.
Millennials want to make a difference; this report proves that money is by far not their prime driver:
"The next generation of employees doesn't want to leave their values at the door when they go off to work on a Monday morning," explains Liz Maw, CEO of Net Impact. "Gone are 'weekend environmentalists.'"
What does this mean for businesses?
They need to develop a realistic Corporate Social Responsibility program – not one to only look good on their Web site and pamphlets -, before they start facing a major issue in attracting the best talents out there and retaining their top performers.