Report on Millennials – the link between engagement and social causes

Nov 18, 2015

A new report on Millennials (born since 1985), ‘The next generation workforce – the 2014 Millennial impact’ shows the link between employee engagement and involvement in volunteering and giving programmes at work. The full report is available on  This document lists some recommendations of that report followed by a summary of the main points that link community involvement with recruitment, retention and engagement of Millennials.

Engaging Millennials

Recommendations for employers

  • Mention community engagement at interview (while only 39% of Millennial employees said they researched their employer’s charitable causes prior to the interview, 55% of employees were influenced to take their job based on the organisation’s involvement in causes..  63% of female employees said their company’s cause work influenced them to accept a job, compared to 45% of male employees
  • For workplace giving campaigns, demonstrate exactly who or what will benefit from the donation. Understanding impact matters. For causes selected by the employer, Millennials sometimes have a harder time understanding the value as opposed to projects they complete on their own based on personal interest in the cause. And when managers aren’t fully involved, their employees’ understanding is even less clear.
  • Work with and through internal peer influencers to promote and encourage Millennial participation in community programmes. This includes recognising and training Millennial employees to be ambassadors for the cause, who fully understand the various programme opportunities (individual, department and company-wide) and can spread enthusiasm and build support within the organisation
  • Train department managers on community engagement programmes to ensure that participation by their department is easy to do. In addition, follow-up to let Millennials know specifically the effect of their contributions of time, skill or money to the cause is crucial. The employer’s deep interest in knowing how and why thee employees’ participation is necessary and valued must be evident to the Millennial in order to increase involvement


Millennial employees are looking at an employer’s [charity/causes/community engagement] when seeking a job, and the quality of the CSR programme influences whether they remain there. Companies are recruiting better candidates when they can boast a CSR programme that speaks to the Millennial generation’s passions.

Top factors for Millennials in applying for a job

  • What the organisation does, sells, produces
  • Work culture
  • Involvement with causes
  • Office environment
  • Diversity and HR awards

Company-wide giving campaigns were the initiatives Millennials most commonly participated in.  They preferred joining a company-wide or team-specific volunteer project rather than donating to a giving campaign.   78% preferred serving with a group of fellow employees. They also preferred participating in cause work with employees they work with directly or who are in their same department, rather than with employees they don’t interact with regularly.


Beyond compensation and benefits, being passionate about the job was the main factor influencing Millennial employees to stay at their company for more than five years. The next most popular motivations were the bonds they established with other co-workers in their immediate team or department and belief in the organisation’s mission and purpose.


Most common sources of information about an employer’s causes:

  1. Organisation’s website
  2. Internet search
  3. Word of mouth from current or past employees

Effective communications

A personal email from an executive or department manager is more effective in promoting a volunteer day or giving campaign than an organisation-wide email.

If someone on the executive level or management staff is not demonstrably supportive of the project, then it will not be widely accepted by employees. However, when a vice president or high-ranking employee strongly encourages their department to volunteer or donate, the project’s likelihood of success increases greatly.
Millennials prefer to communicate through Facebook, Twitter or text.

Types of engagement


Millennial employees most appreciated cause initiatives that help their surrounding community.Millennial employees in this study were highly aware of whether or not management participated in their organisation’s causes.Workplace giving campaigns are less favourable to Millennial employees mainly because they would rather donate to a specific cause they support than give to a broader organisation their company is partnering with.


Millennials generally say they prefer donating to local, community-based organisations – but their giving habits reflect the opposite. In reality, they tend to give more to international NGOs and global non-profits first because those organisations do a better job showing the need and how donations will help, in addition to eliciting peer fundraisers and friends to support the issue.


Participation and employee engagement

The greatest influence on Millennial volunteerism and giving at work came from co-workers and peers who had volunteered or given themselves. In addition to peer influence, co-workers were most engaged when a peer influencer had encouraged participation in the workplace giving and volunteer programmes.

Employees struggled to understand the value they provided to their employer-supported causes. In contrast, the projects the individuals completed on their own made the most lasting impact, given it was the individual’s choice based on personal interest in a particular issue.

Lack of knowledge at the department level challenged employees who expressed interest in programmes offered.  In addition, department managers’ lack of interest in such programmes also seemed to deter the individual from participation and/or brought down the level of enthusiasm for the projects offered. Millennials knew that opportunities existed, but they did not feel personally encouraged to be involved or how their individual contribution would matter.