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Millennials. The group every employer wants to understand. What will attract us to work for a company? What will keep us there? What makes us tick? The millennial workforce is taking over the workplace, and doing it quickly – last year we actually surpassed all other generations as the largest faction of the Americans at work.

Employers are starting to look for ways to engage this demographic, which stands over 53 million strong. Here at BCBSNC, we’re seeing our own young professional numbers continue to increase reaching almost 27 percent of our employee population. With this group on the rise, how do you attract and engage this key talent? One way is by offering Millennials a chance to work with causes we care about. We’re often labeled as lazy, narcissistic, and entitled, but many of us see our careers as a way to help save the world. 

A Voice for Causes like No Generation Before

Last year, 37 percent of Millennial employees surveyed in the 2015 Millennial Impact Report volunteered up to 10 hours, and 84 percent made a charitable donation. We don’t draw lines between our personal causes and our professional duties, and we don’t want to pass up the chance to help make our communities better places to live. The beauty is, this is a win-win situation. A supportive employer can actually help Millennials amplify their impact while retaining top talent and fostering a corporate culture of caring.

Derrick Feldmann, the lead researcher for the Millennial Impact Report noted, “The millennial generation is influential. From their buying power to their handle on the limitless potential of social media, Millennials can address issues and be a voice for causes like no other generation before them.”

Employers and their non-profit partners have a chance to amplify the Millennial voice by offering meaningful volunteer opportunities and making donating to charities more convenient. Here’s what research says will engage Millennials in giving back:

1.) Offer opportunities that allow Millennials to volunteer with peers – we’re 46 percent more likely to donate if a co-worker asks us to support a charitable cause, and 65 percent more likely to volunteer if our peers do.

2.) Give Millennials a chance to do skills-based volunteering – we’re 77 percent more likely to volunteer when we can bring our unique skill set to a non-profit to help make a difference. Over the past three years, BCBSNC employees have gravitated to skills-based volunteering, and have donated 2,110 hours to work on projects that have saved North Carolina non-profits over $412,600.

3.) Don’t restrict Millennial giving to a specific organization. We want to pick which cause to support financially. About 75 percent of Millennials surveyed at BCBSNC indicated that the most important factor influencing our decision to donate was whether they could pick which non-profit would receive their contribution

4.) Provide company time for employees to participate in company-sponsored volunteer activities. Almost 86 percent of BCBSNC’s young professionals surveyed preferred to volunteer on-site or have flexibility to volunteer during the work day. The Millennial Impact Report also notes that offering these opportunities can improve a company’s culture, and our company encourages employees to utilize their four company volunteer hours a year to demonstrate their caring for each other and their communities.

Employers can use community service and fundraising opportunities as a benefit to attract top Millennial talent, but corporations also have the unique opportunity – and responsibility – to help harness Millennial passion to solve community issues.

One of our company’s Millennials, Amanda Piltzer, who participated in our skills-based volunteering program said, “I chose to volunteer with a skills-based program because I thought it would be a great way for me to use my talents to help a non-profit, while also gaining hands-on experience relevant to my career. I also felt that it would be a rewarding experience to make an impact by focusing on a project that would help the non-profit be sustainable. After the project, my non-profit sent me a picture of the kids they serve, and I still keep it in my cube!”

Just open any newspaper, check Twitter, or watch the news. The problems of the world today are obvious, but Millennials want to be a part of the solution, all while keeping their day jobs. As Grammy winning, hip-hop music sensation Lin-Manuel Miranda says, “This is not a moment, it’s the movement.” He’s right, this is our shot to make a difference.

Be a Part of the Movement: How You Can Help

Are you a Millennial who wants to be a part of the movement? Or a business leader that wants to connect your employees to skills-based volunteering programs?

Check out Catchafire, an organization that can match volunteers with non-profits who need help with everything from creating infographics to fundraising. You can be a part of the solution, and help save the world one volunteer hour at a time.

About Allison Bonner

Allison Bonner works in Community Relations at BCBSNC where she coordinates and oversees community partnerships and employee volunteer opportunities. She’s deeply passionate about giving back to the community and changing the world one small step at a time.

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