Addressing the Great Resignation through Smarter CSR

  • Groundswell
  • November 8, 2021

“I think the idea to simplify corporate giving to put it in employee’s hands – and potentially make it a benefits offering for a company – is extremely compelling.”

– Thomas Gaissmaier, Global Chief Human Resource Officer (Formerly Match Group, 21st Century Fox, Boston Consulting Group)

You’ve seen the news: The so-called Great Resignation is upon us. A whopping 4.3 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in August, with that number rising to 20 million if extended back to April.

Why? The reasons are complex. (It’s been a strange year or two.) But one big reason is that the modern employee will no longer settle for profit without purpose. They want their work life to integrate with their values, and they want their employer to help them express their values.

This is doubly true amongst Gen Z, for whom a professional life imbued with meaning and impact is more important than ever.

Unnerved by this nationwide mass resignation, how should leaders react? By reinventing corporate social responsibility programs to meet this new reality. By decentralizing CSR, and driving it through employees, companies can create a new type of benefit – a benefit with impact.

How Can Companies Adapt to the Great Resignation?

The Great Resignation is sending employers a message: The modern employee isn’t willing to settle. They aren’t willing to clock in and clock out like an automaton. After the pandemic – when all of us were reminded of things in life that really matter – this is truer than ever.

As a BBC report puts it,

“The intensity has increased in terms of expectation; people are expecting more from companies. The early days of the pandemic reminded us that people are not machines. If you’re worried about your kids, about your health, financial insecurity and covering your bills, and all the things that come with being human, you’re less likely to be productive. And we were all worried about those things.”

These worries have morphed into new expectations, and are a big reason why employees leave their jobs in 2021.

And the youngest generations of talent are the most discerning. 63% of millennials – essentially workers under 35 – said the primary purpose of businesses should be “improving society” instead of “generating profit”. This demonstrates that millennials place a higher importance on making a difference in the world than simply earning a wage.

And Gen Z are even more committed to their causes. On social media, they share content related to environmental, human rights, political or social issues even more than Millenials.

Steps to a Smarter Form of CSR

How can leaders adapt to the needs of the modern employee to ride out the Great Resignation? By getting smarter with their CSR.

Historically, philanthropy has been slow to innovate. Many companies, brands, and vendors have popped up with new ideas and tools – but these have often worked within the status quo. They don’t really offer the satisfaction that employees need to consider their workplace a socially responsible company.

Real CSR innovation means decentralizing the program, and empowering employees. Leaders need to recognize that everyone’s circumstances are unique and diverse – as are the challenges they attempt to resolve.

The key here is the individual. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all CSR solution. It’s time for employers to recognize the need to give employees a say in where corporate impact happens.

Here are some ideas on how to bring your talented and passionate employees into the CSR conversation.

Align Your Company Values with Benefits

Brand consistency is important, and it doesn’t need to stop at your employee benefits. Thomas Gaissmaier, former Chief People Officer at Match Group, tells us how to take a human-centric approach that aligns with your brand.

“What I’m passionate about is benefits that really help employees with their life situation. One of the things we did at Match Group was real fertility support. When the company is about dating, the company is about relationships, and ultimately about long-term relationships. From a benefits perspective, thinking through relationships and then family. It was these things where we believed they can have a real impact on life and have brand consistency. If the business is about relationships, we invest in relationships.”


Encourage Employee Volunteerism

One of the reasons we are living through the Great Resignation is because people lack the time to do things that matter. They are quitting their jobs so they can spend their time on activities that have purpose.

Leaders can give employees what they want – but retain talent – by giving them dedicated time off for volunteerism. Volunteering is a great way to take a meaningful break and has proven mental health benefits, including reducing feelings of stress and overwhelm and increasing the sensation of fulfillment.

Giving employees 16 hours of PTO to volunteer where they want, or work on a topic they care about, is generally more effective than trying to get 100 employees to all show up for a one-off event. A group exercise can feel like busy work and may not promote a cause that each individual is personally interested in. But allowing people to select where they want to make a difference, and targeting their efforts there, strengthens diversity.

Show Employees That You Value Things Beyond Profit

Amidst the turbulence of the Great Resignation, companies need to differentiate themselves from apathetic competitors, and signal their values.

Today, people want to work for (and buy from) businesses that have an active involvement in their community and in good causes. To retain talent, leaders should strive to integrate with their local community, and find causes to back.

This could be on social media, it could be through live events or webinars, it could be through partnerships or sponsorships. Whatever you choose, these genuine actions will demonstrate to employees that they are a part of something more than a money-making machine. This type of morale boost will leave employees feeling fulfilled and inspired – and far less likely to quit.

Let Employees Drive Your CSR

Here is the most powerful way to evolve your CSR and maximize your chances of retaining your best talent: Put your employees in the driver’s seat of corporate philanthropy.

Solutions like Groundswell revolutionize how companies approach employee compensation and corporate philanthropy by empowering employees with their own personal donor-advised funds (just like what the 401k did for retirees).

Groundswell’s CSR technology gives employees their own personal foundation, and a payroll integration will let them automatically divert their charitable giving into their account — with the option for the company to match those funds or gift money directly into it, eliminating the antiquated post-donation matching programs that companies operate today.

Fighting the Great Resignation by Making Giving to Charity an Employee Benefit

For leaders, the Great Resignation is an understandable worry. Losing good staff is a bruising experience for any company, and it can be tricky to know how to offset this risk.

What we need to do is work with the reality of why so many people are quitting: because they want more than a paycheque, because they want their workplace to be an empowering place that helps them make a difference.

With Millennials and Gen Z-ers accounting for an ever-larger majority of the workforce, leaders urgently need to innovate on their CSR. As we move into the coming years, providing purpose alongside profit will be crucial to the companies who want to hold on to their best talent. Today, for young employees, social responsibility is more important than a large salary or a corner office.

At Groundswell, we’ve built the tech to help companies unlock a smarter CSR. We help companies support employees in having the social impact they desire – driving satisfaction, retention, and growth.

Contact Groundswell today helps employees give more.

  • Groundswell
  • November 8, 2021