Want to Engage Millennial Employees? Prioritize Giving Back.

Want to Engage Millennial Employees? Prioritize Giving Back.

For many Millennials, a fulfilling career means more than 40 hours on the clock. Beyond compensation and job titles, people in the country’s largest generation value a sense of meaning in their work more than their older colleagues.

Our Great Place to Work team recently uncovered this trend while selecting the Best Workplaces for Giving Back. Our analysis of more than 350,000 surveys from Great Place to Work–Certified™ organizations revealed a strong connection between organizational giving and employee experience.

People who felt their employers made a positive impact on the world were:

4 times more likely to say their teams give extra to get the job done
11 times more likely to say they plan to stay with their organizations for the long haul
14 times more likely to say they look forward to coming to work.

“At the heart of the company is its understanding that a great work environment encourages, not just the work we do, but the full human experience,” says a Millennial at Cornerstone OnDemand, one of the Best Workplaces for Giving Back. “The Cornerstone Foundation, building skateboards with underprivileged youth as a part of new-hire orientation, child mentorship programs like Spark, encouraging Cornerstars to vote in the upcoming election and having marathons, triathlons and walks throughout the year for various charities are a constant reminder that we as an organization are more than simply the sum of our parts.”

Committing to giving-centered programs like these has a huge impact on employee experience across all generations. But we found this effect to be particularly strong among younger employees.

Among Millennials, survey responses related to community involvement had a stronger relationship with expressed loyalty and whether people see their work as more than “just a job.” At the same time, Millennials seem to have higher “giving back” expectations than their Gen-X and Baby Boomer colleagues. Overall, younger employees scored their organizations less favorably on community contributions and their sense of making an impact.

For hiring managers, this is a big opportunity. Enhancing involvement in worthy causes – especially with programs that directly engage employees – offers a chance to better recruit and retain Millennial talent.

How to Give Back the Right Way


Our Best Workplaces for Giving Back offer a range of innovative and creative examples of how to make giving back a priority.

  • Veterans United Home Loans puts giving front-and-center from day one. All new hires receive a $10 gift certificate with instructions to “pay it forward” with a good deed. Their orientation then includes a chance to share how they brightened someone else’s day, setting an expectation that giving back will be integral to their work.

  • VMware’s Good Gigs program marries employees’ personal passions with the company’s philanthropy. Cross-functional teams spend three months honing their leadership skills during international projects that have included educational programs at orphanages in Vietnam and schools in South Africa.

  • Novo Nordisk’s Take Action Challenge gives co-workers the chance to pitch community projects for $10,000 grants. Participants work directly with nonprofits to bring these ideas to life, giving employees a real stake in their organization’s giving. Examples to date include a school garden, a public wellness fair and mentoring programs for underprivileged youth.

Initiatives like these can bring an immediate boost to staff camaraderie. But they also build a deeper sense of connection with the organization across the workforce.


“We could easily lose a sense of fun at work and not care about giving back to the community,” says another Millennial at Veterans United Home Loans. “I am so proud to say I work at Veterans United, where more than 90 percent of employees donate 1 percent of their salaries to fund our foundation, which has donated millions of dollars to local and national causes. That's something that makes VU a great place to work.”


Kim Peters