Enter the mind of 26-year-old Alex Van Rees.
Though just beginning to wet his feet in the corporate world, he's excited about one of the perks at his new job — a perk that was absent from his previous employers.
This extra benefit was not a better health insurance plan, additional paid time off or even a prominent job title. It’s something that, for Rees, is way more rewarding than any of that.
His carrot? Philanthropy in the workplace.
If you’re familiar with millennials (and you should be by now), you know they view a company’s commitment to charitable activities as a requirement. In fact, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study, about half of young employees say they would leave a firm that has no interest in social responsibility.
This belief has become a business. Startups such as Morristown-based Caring Capital are making it easy to pair up nonprofits with for-profit companies.
Susie Schub, president of Caring Capital, said her business facilitates philanthropic team-building projects for companies of all types. Connecting with the nonprofit, organizing the activity and even cleaning up after it is just a part of what Caring Capital does.
So when SmithSolve, the pharmaceutical industry marketing firm that Rees works for, wanted to usher in employee engagement with a philanthropic bent, it paid Caring Capital to handle all the logistics.
About 35 clients — in New Jersey and beyond, from small firms to large corporations — are also utilizing Caring Capital’s services today. The price tag on those services varies from client to client.
The payoff on these services arrives in the form of millennial worker retention, or at least that’s the hope of a firm such as SmithSolve.
Chris Smith, president and CEO of the firm, said he believes corporate philanthropy is a key component of keeping young workers engaged:
“When you look at creating a desirable workplace, younger workers are looking for meaning,” he said. “They want to contribute — not just by producing something as part of a company — but by making a difference in the lives of people.”
With that in mind, Caring Capital has had a part in helping retain roughly 25,000 employees nationwide. That’s the number of workers who have participated in the charitable team-building activities Caring Capital has organized since its 2009 founding.
And that number is growing.
Caring Capital, which led 17 events in its first year, ran more than 70 in 2014, as more companies have started to pay attention to the interest in social responsibility among the notoriously hard-to-retain millennials. Caring Capital said its revenues have quadrupled at the same time.
Smith and Schub said the company coordinates more than just a simple financial contribution to a charity — a very involved activity that brings a firm’s entire staff together for a cause.
For example, the Jersey City iteration of the national Charity Team Building Events organization will host workshops that have employees building new bikes for kids, or constructing wheelbarrows that will be stocked with charitable gifts.
Caring Capital, contrasted with those operations, brings the team-building event to the company’s location, instead of dragging them to a capacious venue.
Caring Capital is building a partnership with the companies it helps, too, as up to 80 percent of Caring Capital’s clients are repeat customers.
Wyndham Worldwide, a Parsippany-based global hospitality company, has used Caring Capital’s service seven times.
That customer loyalty is positively reflected in the annual surveys that gauge employee engagement at Wyndham, according to Jonathan Talman, director of learning and development for corporate services. Wyndham even allows its employees paid time off for nonprofit work.
And this all has pleasantly resonated with Wyndham associates, he said. The enhanced productivity tied is good for the bottom line. And others.
Such as children in the foster care system who have benefited from Wyndham.
“These children often have to pack their meager belongings in black garbage bags (when moving),” he said. So when Wyndham gave charitable gifts to these children, the goods came in treasure chest-like toy boxes that could double as luggage.”
That’s something employees, young and old, want to be a part of.
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When Novartis, a multinational pharmaceutical company, hired a new head of IT two years ago, the woman in charge of the department had a serious problem.
And it was Caring Capital that she took it to.
“She said, ‘300 IT folks work for me in East Hanover in 11 different businesses. I don’t know them, they don’t know me — can you help me create one IT department?’” Caring Capital President Susie Schub explained. “I said, ‘Of course.’”
Schub helped her create a yearlong program of voluntary quarterly gatherings in which Novartis IT employees would help 18 different nonprofits in Morris County.
“And, at the end of each event, nobody went home — the employees had become connected to each other,” Schub said.