Deposit Photos
Deposit Photos 

With millennials soon to make up more than half the total workforce and research showing that they are motivated more by improving the world than work prestige or big money jobs – how can small businesses attract and retain top talent?According to Marco Barbosa, founder of eSolidar and one of Forbes top 30under30 Social Entrepreneurs, the answer lies in Corporate Social (and Environmental) Responsibility (CSR). Here he explains why:



A study by Bentley University found that 84 per cent of millennials felt that making a positive difference in the world was more important than professional recognition.

The Millennial Impact Report found that more than half of millennials have been inspired to work long-term for a company whose mission it is to change the world.

This is shifting CSR into the foreground and will make it a key issue for all businesses in the next few years. The PwC Global CEO Survey shows that 64% of companies are making CSR ‘core’ to their business.

Companies that demonstrate long-term commitment, putting in place good processes and platforms for managing CSR, will outperform others in terms of talent acquisition and retention, productivity, and sales.

According to a Project ROI Report, 76 per cent of Americans wouldn’t take a job with a company that had a bad reputation even if they were unemployed. This emphasises the importance of a good reputation for CSR, with 45 per cent of millennials saying they would take a pay cut to work for a company that makes a positive social or environmental impact.  The same report also found that CSR reduced employee turnover by 25-50 per cent.

So, be vocal about the work you do, the opportunities you offer employees, and the systems and policies you have in place that demonstrate your commitment to CSR. Include a section in recruiter profiles and make sure you talk about your CSR work during interviews.

Despite fears that CSR ‘eats up’ time – the reverse has been shown to be true;  CSR programmes can improve productivity by around 13 per cent, according to Project ROI. This is because people are more motivated by why companies and people do what they do than what or how they do it.

Appointing someone within the business to be the key point person for your CSR programmes can provide a much-needed focus and keeps things moving. Enabling CSR with technology is usually the best and easiest way to engage all employees with minimal manual management.

 Customers are inspired by CSR too. In the US, 83 per cent of consumers say they want more products and services they use to contribute to a social cause, with 62 per cent saying they’d switch brands if it didn’t have a clear social purpose.

As such, companies with a good reputation for CSR see sales revenue increase by up to 20%, according to the Project ROI Report, with every $1 in philanthropic contributions generating $6 of revenue (within limits).

Of course, sales won’t increase if customers don’t know the work you are doing, so you need to shout about it. Add it to your packaging like Innocent do, or build it into your advertising, for example. Just make sure you are tracking the impact you make; a CSR manager or technology platform should be able to keep a running total of money donated, hours spent volunteering, paper and ink saved, etc. These facts help to benchmark your business against others and demonstrate your commitment to CSR, giving you great marketing material.

To discover the most effective ways to make a social and environmental impact, use a survey or workshop to ask what causes your employees are interested in. If staff feel they are leading the direction of CSR then they’ll be far more committed to it themselves. Ultimately, the most effective CSR programmes are those that fit in with your brand ethos and employees’ passions. Find yours and commit to it wholeheartedly – employees, customers, and the world will thank you.

About the Author

Marco Barbosa is a serial entrepreneur who has started three successful businesses and has been named in Forbes 30under30 for Social Entrepreneurship. His latest venture, eSolidar, is a tech platform connecting businesses with charities to enable better CSR and employee engagement.

eSolidar has just launched on equity crowdfunding site Seedrs. When he’s not starting businesses, doing TEDx talks, or advocating corporate responsibility, Marco likes to travel and experience different cultures around the world.