For companies unsure about the payoff for implementing a full-scale employee giving program, recent research from Cone Communications, a public relations consulting firm, should put the subject to rest: Vast majorities of millennials, who will comprise over half of the American workforce in just three years, want their employers to give them opportunities to personally help the company in its corporate social responsibility efforts; want to provide feedback, ideas and solutions to their companies’ CSR challenges; and want their employers to help guide them in making a positive impact in their communities, in the workplace and at home.

In fact, millennials are increasingly more willing to work for one company over a competitor—even if it means getting paid less—if a company has a strong social purpose and gives its employees ample opportunities to contribute to CSR activities.

Cone Communications’ Millennial Employee Engagement Study looked at the full range of employee giving initiatives — including cash donations, and formal and informal volunteer service—and examined how millennials viewed them and valued them. The results confirmed what previous research has pointed to in recent years: This generation is guided by purpose, is eager to contribute and expects its employers to bring them into the CSR fold. Consider the following:

  • 88 percent want employers to share details of their CSR commitments.
  • 85 percent want opportunities to help employers reach their CSR goals.
  • 84 percent want employers to give them ways to get involved in their communities.
  • 89 percent want hands-on activities around environmental responsibilities in the workplace.

When it comes to volunteering, this generation is more open to more forms of service than earlier generations, too. For example:

  • 81 percent look for companywide days of service, versus 67 percent of the average U.S. workforce.
  • 83 percent look for company-led volunteer activities, versus 67 percent on average.
  • 79 percent want paid time off, versus 61 percent on average.
  • 73 percent want after-hours service opportunities, versus 58 percent on average.

All of this indicates that companies have an increasingly valuable tool to expand their social responsibility activities and garner greater impact, simply by enabling their eager millennial employees to pitch in and contribute their time, talents and other resources to company-sponsored CSR programs. But it promises to have an impact on companies’ staffing and human resources departments as well, the study showed. For example:

Recruiting talent is easier with strong CSR and employee giving and engagement programs. About three-quarters of millennials consider a prospective employer’s CSR commitments when deciding whether to accept a position. A full 64 percent of them say they simply would not work for a company that didn’t have a strong CSR commitment. And some 75 percent say they would be willing to take a lower-paying position if it meant working for a more socially responsible company.

Employee giving and CSR involvement build employee loyalty. Nearly 90 percent of surveyed millennials say their jobs are more fulfilling when they can personally have a positive impact on social issues, and 83 percent said they would be more loyal to a company that helps them to contribute to CSR activities.

These, in turn, will impact companies’ bottom lines in substantive ways, the report said. According to a prior study cited in the report, over half of surveyed companies said that training and development costs for millennial employees were the highest of all generations in the workplace. On average, the report said, it costs between $15,000 and $25,000 to replace a millennial worker.

With numbers like that, implementing employee giving and volunteerism programs that keep millennial workers engaged and loyal will not only amplify a company’s social impact, but save it money in reduced turnover costs along the way.

To read the Cone Communications study in full, go to