What’s the Best Work Perk of All? Contributing to the Social Good

As workforce demands increase and companies work hard to attract talent, the workplace has become far more competitive, with potential hires holding the cards. Flexible hours, continuing education, company stocks — once tools used only by the most progressive employers — now are commonplace. While we have a way to go, we can point to shifts that acknowledge team members as whole beings with responsibilities, obligations, and interests outside the workplace.

Many companies are engaged in active corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs devoting their resources and time to meaningful causes aligned to their cultural values. And they have good reason to do so. Employees today are looking for their workplace to contribute to social good and issues that resonate for them personally.

According to a 2016 Cone Communications study, 75% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company; 76% consider a company’s social and environmental commitments before deciding on a job, and 64% wouldn’t take a job if a potential employer didn’t have strong corporate responsibility practices.

More recent data confirms this is not a fad. According to College Pulse, 79% of college students say it's important to them that the company they work for after graduation supports causes that matter to them, with racial equality and gender equality the top causes students want their company to support. Forty-one percent say helping others or enacting positive change would make a job feel meaningful to them, compared to 18% who say earning an above-average salary is a priority. 

Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025 and they are looking for socially responsible employers.

Paul Polman and Andrew Winston say a company is Net Positive if it “improves well-being for everyone it impacts and at all scales—every product, every operation, every region and country, and for every stakeholder, including employees, suppliers, communities, customers, and even future generations and the planet itself.”

At the K-12 education publishing company where I lead Human Resources, we believe in the work we do. We are interested in the lived reality of classrooms and want to make schools great places to teach and exciting places to learn. We have a financial obligation to our shareholders and to our board, but our purpose, the reason we get out of bed every morning, is helping educators and their students. We help districts and schools strengthen their instructional practices through our high-quality, digital-forward curriculum and assessment programs. We believe in the power of education, and we also know what is possible when we come to work every day with the goal of effecting positive change. 

When hiring new talent, companies need to remember that purpose and passion are as meaningful to recruits today as salary, benefits, and perks like paid parking and gym memberships. If you want to win the talent war, make sure that doing good not only influences your company culture but also informs your business model. 


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