How can firms best approach their corporate giving strategy to engage Gen Z?

With Gen Z set to constitute around a third of the world’s workforce by 2025, it’s fundamental that employers listen to their needs and create an environment where they can thrive. According to a Deloitte survey, Gen Z are uniquely motivated by environmental and social issues and make career decisions based on their values.

At a crucial stage of their lives, Gen Z has experienced a period of social and economic upheaval, facing a global pandemic, followed by the cost-of-living crisis. This has led them to consider how they can create positive social impact to support struggling communities. Gen Z therefore have higher expectations of employers and want them to not only demonstrate environmental sustainability, but also provide ways for them to support the causes they care about. 

According to a recent LinkedIn poll by Hays, a Neighbourly partner, the top reason why Gen Z professionals get involved in volunteering is having the chance to contribute to the community (29%), closely followed by having passion for a specific cause (27%).

In this article, I’ll explore how employers can ensure they are taking an innovative approach to their corporate giving strategy to better engage Gen Z with their social impact initiatives.

Going local

According to a study by Kingston University, Gen Z-ers want to feel personally connected to the charities and causes they support. This points to the importance of selecting local causes or involving employees in the process of selecting charities.

In the most recent Neighbourly survey exploring levels of trust in organisations among members of the public, 63% of respondents said they were more likely to trust a company that supports smaller local charities compared to 47% for a national one.

There is also evidence that giving to local communities can improve mental health, fostering a shared responsibility for the wellbeing of those around you. Employees can feel better connected to their communities through choosing to support charities and local initiatives that they are connected to, allowing them to see the impact they’re creating more readily.

To encourage employees to consider local volunteering as an option, companies can give employees the space and time to share their successful experiences through employee forums or by showcasing case studies via internal communications channels to encourage others to take part.

With the advancement of AI technologies coming towards us as both a major disruption and an opportunity, strengthening relationships at a local level has never been more important, particularly when it comes to challenging misinformation and social polarisation.

The importance of flexibility

Flexibility is important for Gen Z when it comes to volunteering and corporate giving as they are a generation that values work-life balance.

According to a British Heart Foundation survey, 37% of Gen Z respondents said flexibility was a key factor when it comes to volunteering.

Being able to volunteer on their own terms, whether through virtual opportunities or short-term projects enables Gen Z to make meaningful impact while managing their busy schedules.

A barrier cited by British Heart Foundation when it comes to volunteering is not having time to commit to it regularly, so it is important that employers give people the opportunity to take part in a way that fits them. This can include providing micro-volunteering opportunities where people can complete short actions, including providing help with a digital task or writing a short letter or card to a beneficiary of the charity.

Virtual opportunities can also provide a more accessible way for Gen Z to upskill and enhance their communication skills through supporting others. This could include activities such as supporting disadvantaged children to read via Zoom or attending webinars where people can help upskill and educate communities.

Building the right culture

Building the right company culture is important for creating a supportive environment for Gen Z to participate in volunteering. Having a solid strategy is essential, which can involve rewarding and celebrating employees that have participated, to motivate others.

Businesses can also encourage teamwork and collaboration by organising small group volunteering activities or projects. This can help Gen Z build relationships with colleagues, develop their teamwork skills and make a collective impact on the local community. This is particularly important if you have a dispersed workforce – volunteering together in small groups can strengthen bonds.

Companies should also emphasise purpose, and ensure their values are clearly aligned with social causes they support. In addition, impact should be clearly communicated in order to inspire Gen Z workers and help them to trust that their actions will contribute to tangible outcomes.

Director at Hays, Karen Young, said: “Having a strong corporate giving strategy is vital so organisations can prove they are not only driven by profit, but also by their purpose and values.

“I have witnessed so many positive benefits of our volunteering initiative first hand, including improved employee morale, a shared sense of belonging and pride, a buzz around the office as people discuss their experience and boosted wellbeing as giving back makes people feel good.”

With 61% of volunteers saying that they rated their happiness at work as greater than 7/10 compared to 55% of employees who had never volunteered, it’s imperative that businesses give employees – of all ages – the right tools so that they can develop new skills and gain valuable, meaningful experience that has a material benefit on their community and wider society.