Why CSR Uplifts the New Generation Workforce! 0

Kenneth Wheeler
Kenneth is an HR - L&D professional with 16 plus years of rich learning experience spread across different Industries, Technology, E-commerce, Telecom, Airlines, and Hospitality. Awarded as 101 Top HR Minds (India) 2019 and a certified NLP Coach, he is a well-rounded expert in Envisioning, Strategizing, Leading and Managing a robust gamut of HR and L&D framework, contributing to both MNC (Wipro) and Start-up ecosystem (Ola & LogiNext). Adept with a hands-on approach, he has grown passionate about achieving business results through people by imbibing and adopting a collaborative work methodology. A key contributor in winning the BM Munjal award for LogiNext for 2 consecutive years for achieving business excellence through L&D program, Kenneth is currently the VP Human Resources (L&D) at LogiNext Solutions. His obsession includes exploring multiple ways to build a flexible and agile Learning Infrastructure, governed by the use of new-age cutting technology (AR & VR, AI, ML, Bots). Thus, nurturing a culture of future fit employees by building a well-crafted Blended Learning approach in the form of gamification, mobile learning, experiential learning, design thinking, Storytelling and contributing directly to companies bottom-line result.

Earlier this year, while driving back home after watching a movie, we saw a lot of young people on the roadside with banners in their hand shouting slogans of justice and equality. My wife immediately remarked on how self-empowered and committed is the youth to fight for a purpose they believe in. Later we learned that it was an annual Pride Parade for the cause of LGBT in Mumbai. This made me realize that the world we live in now has been significantly changed and altered by this new generation in the everyday choices they make.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is no different. Traditionally CSR was mostly viewed under the lens of brand sentiment, company goodwill, appeal to customer trust, philanthropy, and volunteerism. However, over the last decade, I have monitored the rise of looking at CSR under a different and more powerful lens. Today, CSR is carried out with a much stronger sense of purpose which is deeply rooted to uplifting the cause that it supports at a global level. A significant contribution to this renewed impact must be attributed to the new generation workforce who will compromise an emphatic 75% of the total strength at work by 2025 (millennial survey conducted by Deloitte). The young workforce of today gives a heavy push to themselves and corporates to rise and not just support but speak up in a big way about society’s top challenging topics. This workforce, by their sheer commitment to CSR cause, has ensured that CSR itself has now entered a new era!

My engagement and insights gained thereof with today’s younger workforce on this subject, greatly validates this new honed perspective. The average age of employees in my organisation LogiNext, as an example, is 27 years. Every time I speak to my team on topics hovering around CSR, it has been a captivating experience with just how differently they think, connect and relate to issues that can leave a positive impact globally.

I strongly believe that the vibrant young workforce of today follow a more focused approach where CSR means much more to them than a mere corporate activity or a monthly paycheck. It forms an integral part of their World that
truly Uplifts them! It is a means for them to bring about a significant change in society and create a lasting impact on societal good.

Volunteer

So, What Exactly Makes This Workforce More CSR Influential?

Let us call out a few unique behavioural and mindset patterns of our young workforce. This is important to understand the ‘why’ behind my promotion that CSR uplifts this generation much more than any of their predecessors.

The new generation workforce is all about being:

  • Ambitious and achievement-oriented (to both personal and social cause)
  • Strongly opinionated and want their voices to be heard
  • Possess a strong consciousness to give back to society
  • Confident and aggressive in challenging the status quo
  • Higher self-awareness and belief in ‘keep it real’

When I relate to the above- mentioned attributes, it hardly comes as a surprise that CSR and the association with it, for this new generation workforce, is as important to them as anything else they care about. A win in this field equally uplifts their spirits as does a win in any other category of their life. In fact, I can be bold in saying that a CSR win makes them complete as a worthy individual in their own eyes!

The below statistics from Cone Communications Survey 2018 scores an interesting point and helps clarify the force this new generation imposes on this new CSR era.

  • 91% of today’s youth don’t hesitate to switch brands in favour of one associated with a cause. This trend is catching fast when it comes to switching companies in favour of another that has a more genuine CSR cause and visibility
  • 92.1% think that working for an environmentally and socially responsible company is important. So important that CSR has become one of the criteria considered when applying for the right job
  • 94% believe companies have a responsibility to address social and environmental issues
  • 70% say they are willing to work for less pay with an organisation who best matches their ethical and social beliefs

As it is clear from these stats,

The new generation workforce is significantly forcing a positive change way more powerful than ever before. They care about making the world a better place and demand the same sentiment from everyone else – their organisation, friends, network, neighbours and the respective governments too!

Now, having established the connect behind ‘why’ the impact of CSR association is more compact for this workforce, let me build upon 3 key components which, according to me, stand tall for this topic in hand:

  • Importance of ‘how’ a CSR engagement makes them feel
  • The immense power of self- awareness
  • The slogan chant – ‘Have it mean something’!
Also Read:  Wish There Was a 'TripAdvisor' For the HR Industry

Importance of CSR

Importance of How a CSR Engagement Makes Them Feel

The young workforce of today ride on a very high passion which is strongly driven by how the things they are associated with makes them ‘feel’. They care about what they do and how that helps them sleep better knowing that they are making a real difference to the society and the world at large. They would not just do something or contribute to something without asking themselves some tough questions like:

  • Does this cause help the less privileged to help themselves and be independent?
  • What I contribute to – is that making our community more resilient?
  • Does the cause really uplift the quality of people’s lives?
  • Am I truly making a positive impact at a global level or my circle of influence is limited?

A positive answer to such self- thought scenarios significantly defines how elevated they ‘feel’, how significant they ‘feel’ and how committed they ‘feel’ to the overall cause and purpose and to their own individual worth as a contributor towards making a difference at a larger spectrum.

The Immense Power Of Self – Awareness

The power of self-awareness is brutally effective with the younger workforce. They take the pain to be completely aware and educated about the decision they take and the impact it has on their personal and professional well-being. Being born into a digital era, they are accustomed to mass media and visibility on social platforms.

They are not easily persuaded by glorified marketing. Hence, when this talent is convinced about the cause their organisation is supporting, they are committed to working with a stronger zeal and enthusiasm.

65% of new generation workforce state that when a company promotes their voice on CSR causes, they will research about it to ensure that the effort and contribution are all but authentic to the core (Cone Communication survey).

This shift in perspective led John Taft, CEO of RBC Wealth Management, to create a $50 million Blue Water Project aimed at protecting freshwater claiming that, “Employees and customers want to work with a company that they respect.”

In India which is expected to become the youngest country by 2022, with an average age of 29 years, their awareness of CSR impact makes a substantial difference. For example, according to the Times of India’s Make India Water Positive campaign, industries consume 70% of our entire usable water. Manufacturing denim, for instance, uses up 10,0000 litres for making an item. The younger generation is today critically self- aware and understands better than in a country where millions do not have access to drinking water, companies ought to think the impact seriously.

This knowledge empowers the young workforce to choose wisely and feel emphatic of their CSR involvement.

The Slogan Chant – ‘Have It Mean Something’!

The unified voice echoed loud and clear by this young workforce is that much more real, that much more authentic and that much more meaningful. At LogiNext, for example, when we got associated to support the CSR cause with USDF India, the response of our young workforce was significantly encouraging. The HR team had to make zero follow-ups or drop a single reminder email – it was a very proactive engagement at our employee front. What was collected as a financial contribution at the employee’s end, an equal contribution was made by LogiNext to the cause – making it a good partnership. What was more exciting to me was the smile, cheer and joyous frame that I saw across all employee’s faces when we heard from this NGO team the success story of how our contribution helped reunite a couple of lost children with their families. The buzz and positive vibe I saw in office the day we shared the reunited family pictures with relevant documents and receipts of financial contribution – is something that will stay with me forever. The young team at LogiNext were ecstatic knowing that their involvement was meaningful – it just uplifted all our souls!

Have It Mean Something

To Bring It All Together

Undoubtedly, the young workforce is shaping the way the majority of us connect with CSR and the good cause it supports. They are shaping the world around us to care differently, spread awareness, volunteer for real impact and know the worth of our salt in a much more assured way.

In fact, we now commonly see that if the cause resonates with the young workforce, they are very comfortable and even acceptable to the risk it might bring to them – they are bold to win a cause in their favour and have it mean something big.

Their attention to CSR cause is largely drawn to issues outside themselves such as the impact on minority, marginalized or less privileged groups or people. They are passionate about causes that promote human equity, equality and a more balanced World of opportunity for all. Whether they’re working within the system to create a change or to change the system itself, CSR significantly uplifts them.

I recommend that organisations, be it corporate or NGOs, must strongly tap into this progressive mindset and care to establish a CSR vision alongside their company vision!

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