Can future CSR policies attract the next generation?

Shirley Duncalf, Head of Sustainability at Bidfood explores how using CSR policies can effectivity reach the Millennial recruitment pool.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies aren’t a new concept and most businesses have implemented steps to reduce their environmental impact. Whilst many are talking about their CSR strategies and ways to engage with the 88% of consumers who are more likely to buy from a company which has CSR activities, the same principals need to be applied to internal policies and recruitment plans –particularly when it comes to attracting Millennials. 

According to The Guardian, the Millennial generation is the largest to date, presenting a significant consumer market and workforce – it’s predicted that by 2025  75% of the global workforce will be made up by Millennials. When it comes to attracting this generation, recruitment, culture and internal procedures should be approached in a completely different manner to appeal to these potential employees who are the most sustainably conscious generation.

Most Millennials take the responsibility to help solve today’s sustainable and social issues and they expect businesses to do the same. In fact, 88% of Millennials prefer a company that emphasises corporate social responsibility and 86% would consider leaving an employer if the CSR policy no longer met their expectations (Lumesse, Corporate Social Responsibility and Attracting Millennials, 2016).

Clearly, it is crucial that the industry adapts its strategies to ensure it attracts a portion of this burgeoning pool of talent. It’s also important for businesses to have a strategy behind their CSR policies and some clarity on what area to focus on and why. 

This means understanding what you want from your CSR strategy, and how this links to engaging your team. Is it focusing on areas that make more business sense (e.g. saving resources), linking to the wider industry in addressing key sustainability issues, or is it important culturally to motivate and engage team members, particularly those who are more responsibility minded like Millennials?

So, as a hospitality employer, how do you ensure your sustainability strategy stands out to this generation and meets your business’ goals? 

Start from the inside
Businesses are always looking to better their internal green policies, whether that’s implementing waste management strategies, investing in eco appliances or working with suppliers to reduce emissions. However, when it comes to Millennials they’re looking for something more, from businesses who are prepared to do things a bit differently.

To really engage your teams and particularly Millennials, it pays to know what motivates them. Is it causes that are close to home, or are they concerned about some of the wider global challenges facing us?

We recently polled over 3,000 Millennials on which of the United Nations key sustainability goals are important to them. The results showed the top five topics they associated with sustainability were:

  1. Ensuring healthy living and promoting well-being
  2. Ensuring sustainable water and sanitation
  3. Ending hunger, achieving nutrition and sustainable agriculture
  4. Access to affordable, reliable clean energy
  5. Ending poverty

A recent study by the ‘Society for Human Resource Management’ also found that 94% of Millennials are interested in using their skills to benefit a cause, and 57% wish for more company-wide service days. A way to harness this is through fundraising initiatives. According to a Deloitte study, 63% of Millennials donate to charity, and likewise want their employer to have a sense of purpose beyond profit. Hosting regular prize draws, where employees can opt in and take part, is a way to encourage donations and reward employees at the same time.

Strategic partnerships can also work really well. Supporting a charity, body or local group which aligns to the values within your sustainability strategy means employees are united in supporting a common goal.

With partnerships, all employees can get involved in different ways and this approach particularly appeals to Millennials who place high importance on being able to make progress in meaningful work.

Ways to do this, for example, is through donating any unusable products that would ordinarily be wasted to local projects.

Broken bags of sugar could be given to local beekeepers and help to feed honey bees, as a substitute to nectar. Equally, any short-life products could be donated to food banks, or old office furniture can be passed onto local voluntary groups.

“Going one step further, study tours can also work really well. We’ve worked with One Water – a life changing ethical bottled water brand – for many years, helping to raise awareness of the global water crisis.

A team of us visited Malawi to see first-hand the effects that access to fresh water can have on communities. Study tours with a charity partner can offer a genuinely enriching experience for employees and harness the passion that so many of the Millennial generation have for ‘giving back’.

Employee benefits
A companies’ mission, vision, and culture has a significant impact on the quality of the candidates it attracts, especially Millennials.

Offering employee benefits which align directly back to sustainability can go a long way in helping a company to stand out from the crowd to potential employees. The ‘Association for Talent Development’ in 2016 said 87% of Millennials view a successful business as going beyond financial metrics to focus on issues such as environmental and social impact. For example, instead of being able to purchase extra annual leave days, employees could opt for extra ‘charity days’, which could be used to volunteer for a cause they are passionate about – perhaps working with the homeless, a soup kitchen, visiting schools and generally supporting improvement measures in these organisations.

In a world where the emphasis on sustainability is continually increasing, a company’s green credentials are now highly regarded by many alongside the services or products it provides. CSR policies are a major contributing factor to a business’ reputation and it’s this reputation which will lead to an increase in job applications, particularly from Millennials. As Millennials are the future of business, the time to start adapting policies to fit with their outlooks and ways of working is now, in order to futureproof your company.”