The millennial generation gets a bad rap in many places, but there’s no denying that their unexpected ideals regarding work and volunteer service are changing the workplace. Sure, they’re boosting the technological capacities of their employers, but they are also requesting employer-sponsored perks. For example, millennials are demanding access to better health and wellness benefits as well as focusing on work-life balance in a new way. This generation wants job satisfaction. Millennials want to feel they’re making a difference. The work-related benefits you offer may differ from what you offered previous generations, but they’re a sure way to keep your new employees happy.
Volunteerism in the Workplace
One particular perk millennials demand is the ability to participate in sponsored volunteer projects. This shouldn’t be a surprise, considering this generation wants the work they do to be meaningful. Small businesses that give their employees the time and space to volunteer, either through work-sponsored opportunities or on their own while “on the clock,” often find their employees are more satisfied in their positions. Naturally, job satisfaction plays a significant role in employee retention. Encourage volunteerism in the small business workplace through:
- Organizing work-sponsored volunteer projects or asking an employee to take on the role as volunteer-facilitator
- Participating in national days and weeks of service, such as National Volunteer Week
- Allowing employees to choose their own organization to volunteer for over a predetermined amount of time
Corporate Social Responsibility
By providing opportunities for employees to volunteer on company time, small business employers feed the millennial generation’s need to give back, but there’s an added benefit for businesses: corporate social responsibility. Small businesses often participate in corporate social responsibility initiatives such as making financial and in-kind donations, but volunteering is another way to show support. Engaging with your community through corporate social responsibility efforts helps strengthen the community while also putting your small business in the spotlight. In many cases, charitable organizations share news of your business’s philanthropic efforts via the media and with their supporter base, giving you positive publicity.
Balancing Volunteerism With Productivity
Many small businesses find that volunteerism helps strengthen the bonds of employees, the business, and the community at large. However, when employees are volunteering, they’re not working. Too heavy an emphasis on extracurriculars might actually hurt your small business’s bottom line. Before incorporating a workplace volunteer program, factor in the per-hour cost for the average employee to volunteer on work time and any potential loss of business.
Balance these against the positive aspects of workplace volunteering, which include employee retention, the positive feeling of giving back to the community, and a sense of corporate social responsibility. Once you’ve seen how the negatives balance with the positives, you’re in a position to establish rules regarding volunteering. Try these techniques:
- Limit the number of hours an employee may volunteer
- Provide company-wide volunteer opportunities at set intervals
- Bring volunteering to your employees by providing opportunities in-house, such as creating flashcards for students during lunch breaks
With a little forethought, any small business can balance volunteerism and productivity. Installing a workplace volunteer initiative at a small business appeals to a millennial employee’s desire to do good things for the world while allowing your business to give back to your community.