Gen Y’ers Vote for Meaning over Money

I recently read an interesting article about Gen Y’ers in the Harvard Business Review, written by three people from the Center for Work-Life Policy. Two large-scale surveys were conducted to determine the “work aspiration of high-echelon talent.” The findings proved something we at Intel have known for a long time: “Flexible work arrangements and the opportunity to give back to society trump the sheer size of the pay package.” In other words, Gen Y’ers firmly believe it’s important to make a positive impact on the world and they prefer employers that give them this opportunity.

Engaging employees in local and global service opportunities is an old tradition at Intel. For example, for our 40th anniversary, we donated 1 million volunteer hours to the community. When I give external lectures on the value of employee volunteerism, I emphasize how regional and international volunteerism fosters personal and professional development, builds company loyalty, strengthens the company brand and empowers communities.

Good ideas for any age

To satisfy our Gen Y’ers (and the rest of us who are committed to community giving, regardless of our age…), my colleagues and I have created a great new program called “Intel Involved Matching Seed Grant Program.” The idea is simple (kind of like a high-tech start-up model): Intel provides a grant at the start of a project to help get it off the ground. As the name implies, the money is the seed to help the project grow. Employees with a good volunteer project idea can request up to $5,000 from the Intel Foundation to underwrite their group volunteer efforts.

One such project is the brainchild of Intel employees in Poland. The idea is for a team of Intel volunteers to work in several local schools to teach young students (aged 7-10) robotics programming. Since technical studies are not very popular in the region, volunteers will engage students in hands-on activities in mathematics, physics, and algorithm thinking. The project will culminate in a regional science competition among 500 students from the area. Having received the go ahead – and the seed grant – the Intel volunteers are busy turning their idea into a reality.

Gen Y or not, we are all looking for a wider purpose. I am proud to work for a company that supports its employees in their efforts to find such a purpose.