Saying that the world has turned on its head this year is not breaking news. Senior citizens have had to limit their family time and learn new digital methods of communication. Baby boomers are harnessing new technology in the twilight of their careers. Students the world over have taken to online learning, with the results of this informal social experiment likely only to be known in decades to come. The global landscape is shifting, and this dynamic is most apparent in the younger demographic that is venturing into the workforce.
Millennials, or Generation Y, have often been coined by the media as being self-serving, lazy, and entitled. However, this stereotype does not encompass the positive traits of this cohort and does not consider the workforce’s up and coming changing dynamic. A recent Deloitte study found that millennials have actively avoided working with employers that did not align with their values. Moreover, the same study found that the anxiety levels of younger employees surprisingly decreased during the pandemic, perhaps due to the ability to work in a more flexible, virtual environment. This research showcases the need for companies to listen to this demographic and the potential to expand online volunteering work to attract and hold onto this group of workers.
Civic engagement in the new normal
How can an enlightened company make changes and navigate the path forward during such uncertain times? According to the Community for Employee Civic Engagement, research shared in September 2020 reveals that the pandemic may serve as a springboard for a new era in civic engagement. It appears that the question isn’t if businesses should be providing opportunities for positive change but how they can harness these good intentions and curate actionable programs that are workable for all stakeholders. Companies that refuse to acknowledge their increased responsibilities to civic engagement are likely to lose out on potential customers, reputation, and upcoming talent.
Harnessing the benefits of employee volunteer programs
Companies are looking for new ways to recruit this younger, socially-aware workforce. Marketing a positive message and responsible ethics is only the beginning. This generation wants to take an active role in their continual development, so much so that The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020 found that 71% of the younger workforce that planned on leaving their company was simply due to a lack of development opportunities in leadership.
Providing and encouraging employees to volunteer in their communities, alongside mentors in their field, may be integral to employee job satisfaction and retention. Turning the tables by having junior employees educate senior employees on topics such as social media and viral trends can also foster a more cohesive working environment.
How a company incorporates civic engagement into their policies can be as unique and diverse as the businesses themselves. From a marketing perspective, aligning the company’s values with the products or services on offer will create a more genuine and robust message. Younger employees, including Millennials and the even younger Generation Z, are tech-savvy and have the tenacity to harness the internet to solve real-world problems and improve efficiency creatively.
Employee volunteer programs can similarly reinvent themselves in the new virtual world to serve a broader community while developing their employees’ skills and cementing their brand. Company culture also improves as younger employees participate in civic engagement and propagate inclusive and positive change from within.
Despite the personal challenges felt the world over and the anxiety related to venturing into a new and unmitigated future, these tough times have showcased how young professionals remain steadfast to their beliefs and desire to do good for society and their careers. The global health crisis has fostered an even stronger sense of personal responsibility and sympathy for others’ needs while at the same time leading to unprecedented innovation. Mirroring these values and harnessing this commitment to creating positive change through virtual volunteering programs can be a win-win for businesses, employees, and the community at large.