Offering employees meaningful opportunities to use & expand their professional skills through social good positively impacts job performance and satisfaction.
The tight labor market and competitive global economy make it a worker’s market with talented individuals having a lot of choice in their employers. For many, especially coveted millennial and gen x workers, pay isn’t the simple solution it once was to retain the best people. Employees want jobs at companies which align with their lifestyles, speak to their personal values, and – above all – give them opportunities to learn and grow while working on meaningful projects.
How can employers stand out in a sea of options? There isn’t a simple answer. One way to rise to the surface is to embrace and encourage professional learning and development. As the skill sets needed to stay professionally relevant evolve, consider every aspect of your business a skill-building opportunity, including social impact initiatives that give employees purpose and meaning and build their professional skills.
Being a good corporate citizen is still viewed by many organizations as a “check the box” marketing or PR tactic, but a strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) partner provides opportunities for your employees to make a difference in the community while also developing skills that enhance their career and prepare them for the future of work. 94 percent of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. 70% of millennial employees also believe companies should make a difference in local and global communities, with a company’s engagement in the community influencing their decision to work there.
Creating purpose-driven, lifelong learning experiences on the job for your employees is a compelling reason to find ways of connecting your organization’s social impact and professional development, however, many companies aren’t engaging their employees with programs connecting these two initiatives – are you?
Here are three ways you can assess your existing and prospective social impact programs to ensure you create partnerships that improve the communities where you work while investing in your employees’ professional development.
1. Assess your corporate values and identify partnerships that enable you to successfully live up to them.
It is key to select social impact partners that align to and build upon core values held by the corporation. Causes you choose to champion have a major influence on your culture and should align to the values that originally attracted your employees. Evaluate what your organization stands for; survey your employees and identify what broad social issues resonate strongest with them. Resources like the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are a good starting point to identify broad social issues facing our world that align back to your organization’s business and values. For example, if education is an important value, define what that means to your organization. It may mean partnering with an online education platform or offering stipends to staff to encourage lifelong learning. Or, it could mean encouraging tutoring and mentoring in the communities where your employees live and work.2.
2. Offer professional development opportunities that are purpose-driven and prepare employees for the future of work.
Employees want opportunities to make a difference in communities where they live and work. According to a recent Blackbaud study, nearly half of millennials and gen x surveyed donate their time to make an impact in causes they care about. Even more have participated in sponsored events like a run or walk. Giving time is an increasingly important way younger generations with less disposable income choose to support causes. But giving back can do more. In addition to improving communities and the emotional wellness of employees, it can also positively impact their skills. Soft skills like creativity, communication, and collaboration are becoming increasingly important as automation shifts the future of work. Employees who have volunteered for Iridescent’s global technology and engineering education programs reported being 83% more creative at work and 70% surveyed said the opportunity improved their relationship with their company.
3. Provide and promote employee benefits beyond money.
Pay is only one of several factors affecting overall job satisfaction and employee engagement. Employees rarely stay based on money alone. Money is often ranked behind career and skill advancement opportunities and recognition and respect in the workplace. Be sure to emphasize benefits other than pay – like skills-based volunteering where your employees learn and grow. Or, spotlight extraordinary employees in your organization that make a difference in the community and show how it’s also benefiting their professional development. And, don’t forget to carve out time for employees to give back and grow.
Identifying and partnering with nonprofit organizations that align to your company’s corporate values and provide purpose-driven experiences for your employees that enhance their skill sets are just some of the ways that you can increase job satisfaction and long-term retention at your organization.
Technology and engineering education nonprofit, Iridescent regularly partners with organizations around the world including Google, NVIDIA, GM, Salesforce, and Adobe to connect professionals building the newest technology with educators, parents, and kids curious to learn them. Visit iridescentlearning.org to learn more about how your organization can engage its employees through mentorship opportunities that use and build their professional skills while also inspiring others to be innovators and leaders.