Earlier this month I was in Denver with the Center’s Community Involvement Roundtable. As always, it was a dynamic two days filled with animated discussion, shared challenges, and best practices. Much of our focus for this recent meeting was engaging employees across the professional spectrum, from new hires to pre–retirees, though the conversation extended to retirees as well. This focus on employee engagement is not surprising, as the majority of executives surveyed in the Center’s forthcoming 2014 State of Corporate Citizenship study reported that recruiting and retaining employees are important business goals that are aided by the contribution of corporate citizenship.
Engaging employees at different career stages is nothing new to corporate citizenship professionals, but the growing numbers of employees at each end of the spectrum are creating a need to think more creatively about engagement. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 25 percent of U.S. workers will be 55 or older by 2022. At the same time, it is estimated that millennials (born between 1979 and 2000) will make up almost half (46 percent) of the U.S. workforce by 2020 and 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025. , These two groups of employees have different expectations towards their employer, their career, technology, and their workplace, and the notion of one size does not fit all is more true than ever.
Engaging employees: tapping into their drivers
A Center research brief showed that giving attention to what motivates employees at different stages of professional development can help with corporate engagement. The members of the Roundtable have taken a similar approach when thinking about engaging employees in their corporate citizenship efforts. They have recognized that the millennials in their companies:
- are looking for leadership opportunities that don’t always exist in their defined job. Green teams and volunteer projects can provide them with that opportunity. Members found that publically recognizing younger employees for their contributions and connecting them to senior level leaders helped to recruit more employee leaders along the way.
- want to see the impact of their contributions, not just donate because the company asks them to. One member found that when they increased internal communications regarding the impact of employee donations, employees from throughout the professional spectrum responded positively and became more engaged.
- respond positively to social media and want to share the good work they are involved in. Members are creating hashtags for volunteer events, online corporate citizenship games, and avatars that allow employees to announce to others what causes they are involved in or how many hours they have volunteered.
Employees at the other end of the spectrum:
- have knowledge and wisdom they want to share and respond well when asked to step into mentorship roles both inside and outside the company to nurture a generation of future employees in their industry. Companies that provide volunteer activities to tap into this knowledge were able to get more involvement.
- may not be as interested in using social media to promote their involvement or to sign up, so companies need to continue to communicate engagement opportunities through email, internal websites, and newsletters as well as social media.
- want to give back to their communities after retiring and appreciate their company providing opportunities to do so. Some companies work with HR and provide information on community involvement activities in the off-boarding process while others hold annual pre-retiree conferences to let employees know how to stay involved with company-run programs.
These are just a few of the corporate citizenship engagement ideas discussed at our fall meeting. What is your company doing to engage employees throughout the professional spectrum?