Articulate May 2017

How Making A Difference In The World Reduces Employee Turnover

Written By: Chester Elton, Adrian Gostick

What’s the number one work motivator for Millennials – Making an Impact.

That’s not one of those Millennial myths—like they don’t eat cereal because it’s too much effort to clean up the bowl and spoon—it’s as close to a fact as we can get in social psychology.

Here’s our evidence: We’ve now administered a test called the Motivators Assessment to 25,000 people, including more than 4,000 Millennials. The assessment has 100 questions, and was designed by clinical psychologists and psychometricians to identify what motivates people on the job from a list of more than 23 potential motivators.

What comes out on top in more than two-thirds of Millennials results is the idea of impact. In short: Am I making a difference in the world, does my work matter?

This might seem like a simple concept, but it’s powerful. And yet very few leaders understand how to help develop feelings of purpose and meaning in their teams.

Recently in our travels we stumbled across an example that we can’t help but share … and learn from.

TCC Wireless has hundreds of stores nationwide and thousands of employees—and a whopping 85 percent of those are Millennials. It’s no myth that Millennials do job hop with more frequency than older generations, but TCC’s turnover is 20 percent below the national average for retailers, employee engagement is extremely high and profits are at record levels.

Ryan McCarty was a pastor when TCC tapped him to create a corporate social responsibility initiative that would help employees feel the company was doing a greater good for the world. They ended up calling it a Culture of Good.

McCarty explained it this way, “We wanted to create a workplace where you go to work every day and can be a force for good; that by working together with their customers and communities, employees can truly change the world.” Amen Pastor!

They started with backpacks. McCarty and the team at TCC filled 60,000 backpacks with much-needed school supplies, and then they distributed the packs to employees in 28 states. McCarty asked the employees to find needy kids and distribute them. Note that he didn’t only ask the store managers to do this, but everyone.

Said the former pastor: “When word got out about the backpacks our people were handing out, people in need began to show up. Kids were hugging employees, parents had tears of gratitude.” How do you think TCC employees felt getting up for work the next day after that? No snooze button for them.

Today, Culture of Good at TCC has quarterly activities to give back—and each store has the autonomy to do what their employees think will make the most good in their community. We love that! Employees also receive 16 hours a year paid time off to do good on their own. And corporate-wide, the Backpack Giveaway is now an annual tradition. This year, they’ll give away (with help from other corporate partners) about 300,000 backpacks.

The result of all this goodness? About 70 percent of TCC employees believe Culture of Good has won them new customers. There’s no doubt it’s won them the hearts and minds of their employees. But more importantly, there’s an authenticity here that tell us they believe it’s just the right thing to do.

McCarty said, “We are not trying to turn our company into a non-profit. We want to be successful so that we can give more to those who really need it.”

Okay. Now, how does all this apply to your team or your business? What’s the learning? We are sure you can’t give away tens of thousands of backpacks, but we can attest that listening to TCC’s story made us sit back and ask a few hard questions of ourselves and our training company. What are we doing to make the world better, to serve, to donate part of our profits? What do our people believe will help create a Culture of Good in our communities?

This story is a reprint from To learn more about Chester and Adrian visit their website

CHESTER ELTON AND ADRIAN GOSTICK have spent two decades helping clients engage their employees to execute on strategy, vision and values. In their provocative, inspiring and always entertaining talks, these #1 bestselling leadership authors provide real solutions for leaders looking to manage change, drive innovation, and lead multi-generational workforces. Their work is supported by research with more than 850,000 working adults, revealing the proven secrets behind high-performance cultures. They are co-founders of the training company The Culture Works and authors of the #1 New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestsellers All In, The Carrot Principle and What Motivates Me. Their books have been translated into 30 languages and have sold 1.5 million copies around the world.

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