Using CSR to Motivate Gen Y and Boomer Employees

Boomers and Gen Y, the largest cohorts in the workplace, both want to "contribute to society through their labor," according to a new article in Harvard Business Review by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Laura Sherbin, and Karen Sumberg, of the Center for Work-Life Policy. Furthermore, "their workplace demands have significant practical implications for how employers should design work environments to attract and keep talent."

"As the economy recovers…companies will return to the challenge of winning over enough highly capable professionals to drive renewal and growth," according to the authors. The article provides examples of companies that are making the best use of their talented personnel, often reducing costs, while appealing to the interests of Baby Boomers and Gen Y’s. The companies include UBS, CVS, American Express, Time Warner, Cisco, Booz Allen, Novartis, and Ernst & Young.

According to the authors, Gen Y’s say it’s important that their work make a positive impact on the world, profess to be very ambitious, and are comfortable working with people from different ethnicities and cultures. Baby Boomers say being able to work flexibly is important, report having elder care responsibilities, and are members of external volunteer networks, with more than half volunteering their time to advance environmental, cultural, educational, or other causes.

Moreover, Boomers and Gen Y’s "rate other forms of pay as at least as important as money: a great team, challenging assignments, a range of new experiences, and explicit performance evaluation and recognition."

This information reinforces the trends among businesses to engage employees in local and global service opportunities. Companies that encourage and support regional and international volunteerism among their Gen Y employees foster personal and professional development, while building company loyalty, improving their brand, and building stronger communities where their customers and employees live, here and around the world.

Businesses that facilitate nonprofit board involvement among their well qualified Boomers help strengthen nonprofits that improve communities, while providing productive opportunities for their experienced executives and professionals to apply their experience and expertise. Although the HBR article indicates a lower rate of interest among Gen X’s in "giving back," my experience indicates that Gen X’s are also avid participants in service, including on nonprofit boards.

This important new study by the Center for Work-Life Policy gives further evidence that purposefully designed corporate social responsibility programs will advance the interests of businesses as well communities.

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