Why B Corps Have Great Employee Engagement

06/02/2015 01:25 am ET | Updated Jun 01, 2016

Becoming a Certified B Corporation can help unleash the passion, initiative and imagination of employees by connecting them with the larger meaning behind their work.

Goldman Sachs found that millennials, who represent nearly 50 percent of the global workforce, "have specific needs at work that are dramatically different from previous generations. High among these [is] a desire to align personal and corporate values. To attract and retain this group, we believe that companies need to provide rewards beyond financial gain."

Research shows that millennials are not just looking for work-life balance, which means having enough time and energy to enjoy life outside of work. They also are looking for work-life integration, which means applying themselves to something that they feel passionate about, so that they can fulfill both an economic need and a need for a higher purpose. Becoming a B Corporation can help you attract, retain and engage employees around both your company's higher purpose and the B Corp community's collective purpose -- to lead a global movement to redefine success in business.

Tiffany Jana, CEO of TMI Consulting (a Certified B Corporation), says:

My biggest surprise was the social capital B Corp community membership gave me with millennials. I can barely keep up with the droves of highly qualified, passionate, values-aligned millennials who want to work for TMI. I am in the process of creating opportunities for several highly engaged millennials, and I meet more of them on a monthly basis. I no longer search for high-potential staff; they now come to me.

B Corp certification can help you attract top MBA students. In response to student demand, the Columbia, New York University and Yale business schools now forgive the student loans of their MBA graduates who go on to work for Certified B Corporations. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal explains, "more companies are touting the B Corp logo, a third-party seal of environmental and social credentials, to attract young job seekers who want an employer committed to both a social mission and the bottom line."

The B Impact Assessment can also be a useful framework to help engage your team in building a strong, mission-driven company culture. This worked beautifully at Etsy. Chad Dickerson, Etsy's CEO, was proud when the company earned the 80 points necessary to achieve B Corp certification. Dickerson also recognized that Etsy's certification marked the beginning, not the end, of its collective work to build a better business.

In order to further improve Etsy's social and environmental performance, Dickerson and his executive team invited the company's entire workforce to drop its normal workload for a "B Corp Hack Day" in order to brainstorm ideas to raise their score.

"B Corp Hack Day" produced 22 innovative ideas, such as creating a program to track the company's carbon footprint, empowering women to take more leadership roles, improving volunteer programs with local community organizations and increasing employee access to art studios. This also led to an article in the Harvard Business Review about Etsy's efforts.

Indeed, employee retention rates at the 1,300 Certified B Corporations worldwide -- including Patagonia, Ben & Jerry's, Method, Kickstarter, Seventh Generation, Natura and Cascade Engineering -- are incredibly high. For example, according to Christina Keller, CEO of CK Technologies (a Certified B Corp): "Our employees love to work here. In our most recent employee survey, a top area was 'my work is satisfying to me.' This explains our ability to attract millennial talent and maintain a 98+ percent employee retention rate."

One thing is clear: The B Corp movement is not alone in its belief that pursuing social, environmental and financial goals is better for the long-term. Arianna Huffington's book "THRIVE" details the growing evidence that a company's long-term profitability is directly related to the health and well-being of its employees. For example, Huffington lists a number of companies, such as Starbucks, Safeway and Google, who realized that employee engagement and health is one of the most important predictors of a company's long-term success. Huffington argues, "We pay a heavy price -- both personally and collectively -- when we treat employee engagement and profitability as separate."

To learn more about becoming a Certified B Corporation, visit www.bcorporation.net.

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