Small business CSR, or corporate social responsibility, has changed a lot since the start of the new millennium. Nowadays, partially due to the rise of technology, small business owners can use an updated CSR strategy for a variety of evolving purposes.

How CSR Is Recruiting Gold, Especially When It Comes to Recruiting Millennials

By having a CSR plan in place, you can differentiate your business from the competition, especially when it comes to recruiting the kind of talented young employees you'll need to be successful. The data is incontrovertible: Businesses that care about their communities, as shown through CSR initiatives, are exactly the kind of businesses that attract talented, highly sought-after millennials. Using CSR as a recruitment strategy has evolved over recent years.

A survey from The Intelligence Group found that 64 percent of millennials would willingly take a lower-paying job that they found to be fulfilling over one that paid over twice as much but was not fulfilling. For millennials, "fulfilling" means working for a business that cares about its community and seeks to make a positive difference in the world. As a result, for millennial job seekers, corporate social responsibility is often a high-priority consideration. And, according to Nonprofit Information, CSR initiatives can also help you engage those employees you do decide to hire.

How to Put CSR Initiatives in Place

In this age of instant connection, there's a dizzying array of digital technologies that allow people to interact anywhere, anytime, over multiple devices. Digital connectivity has had a huge impact on CSR over recent years, from the way small businesses research or select which causes and groups to help to the way CSR initiatives get marketed and shared among employees and other stakeholders in the community. Reaching out to forge CSR partnerships, whether with the elementary school down the block or with a children's hospital down the interstate, has never been simpler than today. You can go online, thoroughly research any group and see what events they're planning. Afterward, you can simply send an email to begin any CSR relationship.

You can also use your internal digital channels, even something as simple as a company-wide email, to solicit employee participation in your CSR initiatives. In addition, you can communicate your CSR efforts via your business Facebook page or website. Take advantage of all the media that you and your employees have to share the good news. Promote your CSR efforts through articles, photos and videos highlighting employee volunteers and other charitable activities, and cross-promote your efforts on various social media channels.

And don't forget that, as you enhance your reputation as a "business that cares" among your employees, you also build your company's brand with job candidates and other stakeholders in your community. When you help others, you may quickly find that others (especially millennial recruits) seek to help you.

How to Do Small Business CSR Well

1. Align Your CSR Efforts With Your Company's Mission

Small business owners should be strategic and intentional about the CSR efforts they initiate, providing guidance and resources. For example, if your business sells running shoes, it makes perfect sense for you to sponsor and organize a local road race to benefit a community sports group. On the other hand, if you sell chocolate, you might not want to partner with an advocacy group that's fighting pediatric obesity.

2. Connect Any CSR Initiative Directly With Your Employees' Passions

When you align your CSR initiatives with the values and interests of your employees, you drive employee engagement and loyalty. How do you find out about the kinds of CSR initiatives that best align with your employees' passions and values? Ask them.

Perhaps you can send a company-wide email seeking suggestions, or trigger the conversation through face-to-face employee meetings or your Facebook page. Make a short list of possible CSR initiatives, and then have your employees discuss the options and vote for the one they prefer. As employee engagement strategies go, this is a powerful one.

3. Think Far Beyond Just "Writing a Check"

CSR initiatives can be as creative as your imagination allows. Perhaps you can have the entire company volunteer to organize a charity road race on a Saturday morning. Or maybe you can ask your team to tutor at a local junior high school or visit seniors on a Thursday night. These sorts of initiatives are a clear win-win, helping your community while allowing your employees to serve and spend time together outside of the workplace. America's Charities' Snapshot 2015 reported that 82 percent of survey respondents believe that employees want the opportunity to volunteer in company-supported events alongside their peers.

It's clear that small business CSR is valuable in a variety of different ways, now more than ever. You can use your CSR strategy to better engage your employees and your community, and to recruit younger talent.

Tags: small business Millennials Employee Engagement