SMEs are facing a myriad of challenges in 2018. From the impact of Brexit on the job market to differentiating themselves from larger corporates, it is becoming harder for SMEs to stand out and more importantly,  attract the best talent.

The future of the workforce

The presence of millennials in the workforce is rapidly increasing; currently, they hold about 20 percent of all leadership roles, and that percentage is set to sharply increase in 2018. They’re the most desirable commodity in the workplace but can no longer be attracted by traditional benefit schemes. The age old company car isn’t going to cut it when trying to entice millenials to an organisation – they’re looking for more than just money and copy and paste work perks. As the most diverse generation yet, they’re pushing for the organisations that they work for to reflect that.

It’s been well documented that millennials are attracted to purpose over profit – and studies have shown that inspired employees are almost three times more productive than dissatisfied ones. Millenials want the businesses that they work for to do what they say they will and act responsibly. In fact, 52 per cent millennials said that they would consider leaving their current job for one that had more positive impact. Meanwhile, the average employee stays in their job for about 5 years, with millenials spending significantly less time in each role. So, how do businesses attract and crucially, retain the best talent in a more meaningful way?

The business benefits of giving

Millenials are looking for companies that have a social purpose that is authentic and inclusive of everyone within the organisation. While many companies offer their employees the option to volunteer during work hours, there has been plenty of research into the benefits of donating over volunteering. Essentially, it is far more effective and efficient to donate to charities and allow the experts in their field to use the funding to positively impact as many people as possible.

Work for Good is a new online business giving platform which makes it easier than ever for businesses to build giving into the heart of the company and empower employees to shape their company’s social impact. Employees can choose which charities to support, and by linking giving to specific projects or team performance, the difference employees can make is tangible. Commenting on Work for Good’s impact, employees from RS Sales said:We were delighted to be consulted about the charity that RS Sales wished to support. It helped to increase team morale and it was great to feel that we were making a difference.”

But it doesn’t stop there. The benefits of meaningful incentives extend far beyond hiring the best talent. New research from Work for Good has revealed that the more SMEs give to charity, the better their business performs. SMEs that give more than 0.5 per cent turnover are 20 per cent more likely to see an increase in profits, twice as likely to report benefits to company reputation, and almost 50 per cent more likely to improve recruitment and staff retention. Overall, 68 per cent of businesses who give to charity reported a positive impact on profitability. So, in short, charitable giving allows organisations to grow. SMEs may not be able to compete with big corporates’ grand, expensive CSR programmes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have impact. SMEs need to be innovative and find new ways to demonstrate their commitment to giving back and making a difference.

The market is crowded and competition for the best talent is only going to increase. However, SMEs can remain ahead of the curve and, attract the best talent and boost their profits by thinking creatively about how best to demonstrate their commitment to social impact. Initiatives such as Work for Good allow employees from SMEs to feel like their job tangibly supports causes they are passionate about and it is a powerful differentiator. Businesses would be wise to capitalise on the trend now to avoid losing savvy millennial talent to big corporates.







Danny spent 25 years in the City of London, the last 17 at Deutsche Bank where he ran coverage of FTSE100 corporate clients. He was also Chair of the UK Corporate Citizenship Committee. His non-executive directorships include Shakespeare’s Globe, The Microloan Foundation, Shape History and Ivy House Learning.