Benefits and Compensation

Employee Purpose Is Transforming HR, Finds New Survey

HR Daily Advisor has previously reported on the benefits of offering paid time off (PTO) to workers who want to volunteer and serve his or her community. This trendy work perk is a great way to attract and retain employees who are passionate about a specific cause or organization. And when it comes to stakeholders demanding companies have more social purpose, employees—both new and seasoned—have the loudest voices.


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It’s not just that employees expect companies to have a social purpose and are more inclined to work for ones that do—they also want to be part of the purpose movement and involved on a personal level. Roughly 70% of the Fortune 1000 CEOs/C-suite executives polled in a new Covestro i3 (ignite, imagine, innovate) Index indicate that over the last 5 years, they’ve seen an increase in the number of Millennials (71%), GenXers (69%), and Baby Boomers (46%) who want the opportunity for more social purpose work while on the job.

This growing desire among employees for more personal purpose is being felt especially in Human Resources (HR) departments. According to the C-suite:

  • Employee desire for purpose is impacting talent recruitment and retention. Roughly seven in 10 say it is impacting HR’s ability to recruit and retain top talent (69%); and, two-thirds (65%) report it is transforming traditional approaches to talent recruitment and development, including compensation packages.
  • This will continue to in the coming decade. Three-quarters (75%) believe that in the next decade, in order to recruit and retain talent, compensation alone will not be enough. It also will be important for companies—including theirs—to offer employees opportunities for personal purpose work inside and/or outside the company, citing things like volunteerism or community involvement.
  • It’s also affecting work policies. Seven in 10 (71%) say it’s prompting HR to rethink certain work policies, such as paid time-off for volunteer or community work, flextime, and/or telecommuting; and, two-thirds (67%) say it’s compelling HR to work more closely with corporate social responsibility to create new policies and programs that give employees the opportunities to get involved in social projects.
  • Purpose work boosts employee engagement and performance. More than two-thirds (68%) of those polled believe their employees would be more engaged in their work and perform at higher levels if they had opportunities to be challenged by working on purpose projects inside and/or outside the company.
  • Skills-based volunteerism (SBV) fulfills employees’ desire for purpose and provides fringe benefits. SBV involves small teams of employees engaging in short-term consulting projects that aid nonprofit organizations and their causes. The approach, the senior executives say, could help employees satisfy their desire for purpose and hone their teamwork and/or leadership abilities (83%, respectively); develop new skills and/or strengthen existing ones (77%); and, become more engaged and productive in their own work (67%).
  • SBV helps companies recruit top talent and develop future leaders. SBV is seen by more than six in 10 (62%) CEOs/C-suite executives as a way to attract top talent (62%); increase employee engagement (70%); and develop future leaders at their companies (80%).
  • Yet, few have taken advantage of SBV. Despite these benefits, only one-quarter (26%) of the senior executives polled say their companies have utilized skills-based volunteerism.

“The experience the senior executives report of their employees wanting more opportunities for purpose work and the impact it’s having on business parallels Covestro’s own experience,” said Lanier Robertson, Vice President of Human Resources, Covestro LLC—in a press release. “We are thrilled that the approaches we’re using to enrich our employees lives, including skills-based volunteer projects, are having such positive effects on them, the organizations and causes they’re aiding, and the company itself.”

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