Health insurance, vacations and sick days, and all the usual necessary benefits aside, Millennials are looking for something different -- companies that think out-of-the-box and create an environment that appeals to their lifestyle and sense of fun.

While 60 minutes of shooting nerf darts at each other may take the edge off after a tough week meeting deadlines, research is saying that fluffy perks like catered meals, free coffee and arcade rooms appeal only on a superficial level. It's just not sustainable.

What is sustainable is creating a culture where people feel a sense of ownership in impacting neighborhoods, cities, and the world.

The Impact Volunteering Has on Millennials

That's why the 2014 Millennial Impact Report is such a profound eye-opener.

According to the report, 47 percent of the 1,514 employed Millennials surveyed said they had volunteered for a cause or nonprofit in the past month, and 57 percent wanted to see more company-wide volunteer opportunities through their employer.

Their survey found that one-third of Millennials will seriously look at a company's volunteer policies before considering applying for a job.

Thirty-nine percent said that it influenced their decision to interview with a company, and 55 percent went as far as saying that such policies played a key role in their decision to take a job offer.

If you haven't caught on, it may be time to wake up and smell that free coffee. Millennials prefer working for organizations that are socially responsible, ethical, and want to make the world a better place.

What Best-in-Class Companies Are Doing

ACUITY Insurance

Each year, ACUITY exhibits a strong charitable nature through numerous contributions, employee volunteer efforts, and other forms of social stewardship. The best part? Employees actually have the freedom to decide on which charity organizations their company donates to. Over the past eight years, the company has donated approximately $12 million to worthy causes.


Fishbowl, a QuickBooks® Inventory Management Solution company, dedicates a day of service to their surrounding community every year. Projects in the past have included restoring a mountain amphitheater; cleaning up streams and ponds; visiting with veterans at a veteran's home; painting a local high school; and helping upgrade the libraries of two elementary schools.

CEO David Williams said in this Forbes article, "Our project costs of having our employees out of the office is 150 to 200 thousand dollars, not to mention the planning and preparation months before this special day. But the passion this creates and the bond it instills in a company makes it one of the best ROI decisions you could possibly make."


With more than 5,000 employees in 60 offices worldwide, marketing company Epsilon understands what hits at the heart of what Millennials (now over one-third of all employees at Epsilon) are looking for.

Here's what David Lucey, director of campus recruiting, tells Melissa Massello, founding editor of Shoestring, in this enlightening interview about Epsilon's Millennial culture:

"Epsilon Community Outreach (ECO) is our effort, established in every office around the world, to bring employees together to promote our relationship with our local community. It sounds sort of cheesy, but we compete within the offices to see who can give more, and our parent company has a pretty awesome matching gift program for employees -- almost dollar for dollar. We also have social, community-driven volunteer opportunities: here in Boston, for instance, we'll go to Thompson Island in Boston Harbor with a program for inner city kids to go out and learn about the environment and we volunteer to clean up trash and weeds and then have a barbecue as a nice end to the day. ECO allows each office to determine the causes that are most important to them. Corporate-wide, Epsilon partners with United Way, and we also have a large non-profit client base so there are other ways to support our clients with time or donations, which the client team reaches out regularly to let people know about."

Bringing It Home

Look at the needs of your community in places like the Humane Society, Boys & Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, schools, nursing homes, food banks, women's shelters and churches. Now look at how your business can make a positive impact by partnering with these places to better serve the needs of others.

Think about establishing a policy for a company-wide day of service (monthly, quarterly, or annually) as a fun and exciting tradition that your employees will look forward to. This will set the wheels in motion in forming a strong cultural identity of giving and servant leadership that will set you apart with Millennials.