BUSINESS STRATEGY & GROWTH • March 14, 2018
2 minutes Read
Research shows that millennials are eager to engage with businesses that share their values – and are quick to avoid those that don’t. Their U.S. spending power is projected to grow to $1.4 trillion by 2020, representing 30 percent of retail sales, according to Accenture.
Key to capturing millennials – and the older and younger generations that share their outlook – is a business strategy that prioritizes ethics and transparency. Doing good is not only a magnet for customers, it also benefits your business in a number of ways.
Here’s a look at some key benefits to your business:
Good Deeds = Good Marketing
Whether it’s your business’s name on jerseys for a youth soccer team, a local scholarship you sponsor, or a partnership with a nonprofit, affiliating yourself with a worthy cause is great marketing. By getting your name out in this way, you attract new customers who may not have heard of you and give others an additional reason to patronize your business.
When choosing local causes, look for those that complement your business in some way. If you own a restaurant, for example, you could support a local food drive. If you’re a hairdresser, sponsor an annual one-day cut-a-thon for low-income people who are trying to enter the workforce.
Engaging Employees through Volunteerism
Engaged employees are more profitable employees. A study by Cone Communications found that 88 percent of employees say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues.
One of the most effective ways to build a strong team is through group activities. If you choose an activity that also has social value – helping out at a food bank, tutoring, walking dogs at a local shelter or planting trees – your employees not only have the opportunity to get to know one another better, they also benefit from the positive feelings that come from giving back.
Encourage your team to choose the philanthropic or volunteer activities that are most meaningful to them and give them the time and resources they need to make an impact. For example, having a policy of allowing employees a set amount of work hours per month to devote to voluntary activities can help drive engagement.
Creating a Team Others Want to Join
Potential employees, like customers, want to feel connected to your business. Many are looking specifically for the opportunity to join a team that is integrated with its local community. Once the word is out, potential employees may come to you proactively, offering a self-selected group of people who are excited about your business.
Recent data shows that a compelling and authentic social-responsibility platform is a powerful way to attract and retain employees. More than three-quarters of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work, and 75 percent say they would take a pay cut to work for a responsible company, according to the Cone study.
Publicize Your Contributions
Once you’ve begun giving back, don’t hesitate to publicize the news. While promoting your good works might seem counterintuitive, just think of it as a way to share the news with current and potential customers and employees and your community – and maybe even inspire others to get involved.
On your website and social media and in your store, share your mission, goals, and progress. Highlight employee efforts and community partnerships through articles and posts, videos and social media shares. Where possible, quantify your efforts – hours invested, money or in-kind services donated, progress toward annual goals, etc. – and update as you make progress.
Philanthropy, volunteering and other types of corporate social responsibility have become key differentiators for businesses, attracting customers, employees and others who feel a shared purpose. Forward-looking, ethical and engaged businesses are at the forefront of this growing trend and that’s not surprising. Once again, millennials are leading the way, this time to support a business model that successfully combines purpose with profit.