American author Frederick Buechner says your vocation ought to be the place “where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” His words seem to have taken root in the millennial generation, for whom mission matters as much as compensation, title and lifestyle. Of course those other things are important too, but studies and experience have shown an undeniable insistence on social principle coming from the millennial talent entering the workforce. More than 50% of millennials report that the charitable companies supported by organizations influence their decisions on where to work, and a recent study by Futurestep found that when weighing job options, 38% of millennials say that aligning with the vision of the organization is what matters. Only 18% of those surveyed identified job title and pay as deciding factors.
What you stand for should be substantive.
While your organization shouldn’t claim (or attempt!) to address all of society’s challenges, employees want to believe that they are a part of work that matters. This goes deeper than donning matching t-shirts and gardening for one weekend a year. In his article for Forbes on the subject, CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, Barry Salzberg warns, “Did I mention that this media-savvy generation is also jaded and suspicious? Unimpressed by title, well traveled and immune to P.R. in the old sense? To anyone who imagines their heartstrings can be nimbly plucked, good luck.” A survey conducted by Salzberg’s company identified areas of most concern to millennials to be resource scarcity, climate change and income equality.
Business is part of the solution.
It is encouraging to note, especially in the wake of the Occupy movement and other demonstrations that might suggest otherwise, that millennials are putting their trust back in business. Another Deloitte survey found 86% of respondents believe business will have at least as much potential as government to meet society’s challenges, and more than half believe business will have a greater impact than anything else. Young talent doesn’t necessarily feel the need to break the mold to affect change, they believe it can happen through structures that are already in place.
Mission is something you do.
It isn’t enough to give lip service to causes and concerns. Millennials are already highly active, with many in this demographic giving to charities, volunteering and signing petitions in the last year. They are eager to volunteer through their workplace and many organizations are making this possible. Does your company partner with any nonprofits that are aligned with your platform? Are you open to creative volunteer experiences that might utilize the skills of your employees in an ongoing way? Does your senior leadership engage with and promote these programs? See here for more great ideas on how to build effective partnerships with nonprofits.
By 2025, millennials will represent 75% of the global workforce, so it’s important to understand how to attract, retain and motivate this demographic. And if you fall into this age group, I would urge you to articulate your personal mission. There is a lot to care about and change can happen when organizations and individuals strategically align around the same “deep hunger.”
Chaloner, founded in 1979 as Chaloner Associates, is a national executive search firm that focuses on recruiting mid- to senior-level communications, public relations, marketing and investor relations professionals.