People used to see their jobs as a means to an end—a method of earning a salary and putting food on the table. But for the most recent generation of workers, it’s not enough for them to simply earn a paycheck. These workers want jobs that are meaningful to them and provide fulfillment beyond their salary.
A recent study found that 89% of employees around the world say they’d choose to work for a company that’s in line with their personal interests or things that affect society. And in a survey of 15,000 millennials, almost 80% said the top thing they look for in an employer is a “people and culture fit.”
For many younger workers, working toward a goal that’s personally rewarding, upholding values that are important to them, or working in a culture where they feel comfortable can often trump pay levels as the biggest factors for accepting and staying with a job. They not only want to feel professional fulfillment but also emotional and personal fulfillment in their day-to-day lives.
A company’s community and charitable initiatives are ideal areas to bridge a connection with employees’ values. But according to Oracle Human Capital Management’s recent worldwide employee engagement survey of nearly 5,000 employees, just 38% of respondents say their company supports causes that are important to them, and even fewer (36%) say their company allows them to volunteer for causes that are important to them.
To help keep the modern workforce engaged, leaders must do more to ensure that their companies embrace causes that matter to employees and potential employees. Here are four important ways to do that:
1. Establish and communicate organizational values. As organizations become more visible as brands, people are seeking out companies with values that match their own. Rather than making them guess about whether their values align with those of your organization, leaders should actively communicate the ideals or principles they want to stand for.
For example, Conrad Hilton, the founder of Hilton Hotels, outlined the goals for his company’s philanthropic efforts in his will. He advised those who came after him to “relieve the suffering, the distressed, and the destitute.” Those basic guidelines continue to guide the philanthropy of the company.
Employers should identify their values and beliefs, then create opportunities to make a difference in those areas. People who share similar ideals will be attracted to those efforts and will find meaning in them.
2. Acknowledge and reward employees who demonstrate values aligned with those of your organization. When values are clearly stated, leaders can reward employees who reflect those values, building a stronger culture of engagement. For instance, the University of California-Santa Barbara Library has a “Living the Values” recognition program to encourage employees to demonstrate its six stated core values of collaboration, diversity, integrity, innovation, leadership, and research/learning. When employees are nominated for demonstrating these values, they are recognized with a certificate and entered into a quarterly drawing for valuable prizes.
3. Offer organizational volunteer opportunities. Employers should provide opportunities for employees to volunteer as a team for causes that matter. For instance, when employees work together to provide a Thanksgiving meal for needy families in the community, they don’t just become a more cohesive team; they may also feel stronger emotional and personal fulfillment, which is sometimes difficult to achieve within organizations. For instance, pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, which regularly appears on Fortune’s annual list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” incorporates community service projects into its off-site meetings and charges its Social Awareness Team with organizing service projects for the company. Oracle HCM Cloud’s Work Life Applications now include a new component called “My Volunteering” which enables employees to identify with volunteer projects their company supports to quickly enroll in those initiatives.
4. Support employees’ individual volunteer efforts. Many companies engage employees by providing paid time for them to volunteer for organizations that matter to them. Novo Nordisk, for example, gives employees 80 hours of paid time off each year to volunteer. Many other companies provide eight to 40 hours of paid time off for volunteer service. To get your employees on board, develop a list of recommended charities and events in the area. Include a variety of different opportunities so you can appeal to employees’ unique interests.
To learn more about the Oracle HCM survey and other factors that affect employee engagement, download the complete report now.