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The Most Important Job Perk for Millennials? Hint: It Isn't Money

Forget about defining millennials by selfies, self-entitlement, and a native ability to use software — it seems Generation Y is taking their passion and feelings of obligation for social responsibility to new levels by leading in volunteerism, choosing to work at companies with strong community involvement benefits over those without.

“We’re on the crux of something big, because these millennials are going to take this spirit of giving and wanting to change communities and they’re going to become parents soon,” Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, told the Associated Press. “I am very encouraged by what we’re seeing.”

In fact, 73 percent of millennials volunteered in 2013, and — despite unemployment hardships — 87 percent of millennials donated money to a charity last year, the majority of whom donated gifts larger than $100, according to the Huffington Post. Overall, 20 percent of adults under 30 volunteered in 2013, up from 14 percent in 1989, according to census data.

United Way also states that one-third of millennials surveyed in the 2014 Millennial Impact Report take a company’s volunteer policies into consideration when deciding whether or not to apply for a job. Thirty-nine percent of millennials surveyed said that it influenced their decision to interview with a company, and 55 percent said that such policies played into their decision to accept an offer.

We already knew that millennials want to work at companies that are doing good: 88 percent of millennials in our Bentley PreparedU study said that it was a priority to work for companies that are socially responsible and ethical, making the world a better place. But, according to Fast Company, what used to be considered charitable side projects are now becoming one of the strongest recruiting and retention tools for companies looking to engage millennials long term. The article suggests that companies should adopt a three-pronged approach for engaging millennials: offering company-wide volunteering; department-wide projects; and individual opportunities. Once those opportunities are in place, they need to prove that they’re actually making a difference, lest enthusiasm about volunteering decrease over time. Data cited also confirms that 78 percent of millennials prefer performing cause work in groups versus independently, and 62 percent of millennials prefer to volunteer with people in their department (versus people they don't interact with daily).

This truth about the importance of corporate volunteer opportunities and a building a workplace culture robust with chances to give back to the community on the company dime is echoed by our Companies Where Millennials Thrive, such as Arbella Insurance, Epsilon, BNY Mellon, Hubspot, Liberty Mutual, Fidelity, and many more.

What inspires millennials to volunteer the most? The opportunity to give back using their passions and talents to their fullest — with 53 percent of millennials more interested in volunteer opportunities at work than compensation and benefits when it comes to being loyal to one company over a long period of time.

April Lane is a freelance writer.