Student Perspective: SiriusXM “Dollars and Change” Recap, Week of July 9

Wharton Social Impact Fellows Samantha Klein and Emma Kloppenburg tuned in to a live recording of “Dollars and Change” on Wharton Business Radio, powered by SiriusXM. Here’s what they learned from the two-hour segment.
New SiriusXM studio

Employees are an organization’s most valuable asset.

And yet, 70% of U.S. workers report not being engaged in their work – and thus, not fulfilled. Unhappy workers are less productive workers and unproductive workers are less profitable to a company; the success of a company is dependent on making sure all of its workers perform to their full potential.

So what motivates today’s employees? Millenials, who will represent 46% of the workforce by 2020, have demonstrated that more than six-figure salaries, they’re most motivated by careers that match their values – in short, today’s young workforce want to make the world more compassionate, innovative, and sustainable.

And so, more companies are aligning their values with those of their employees and stakeholders. Last week we learned about this first-hand while listening to a live recording of “Dollars and Change” hosted by Dr. Katherine Klein and Sandi Hunt. The four guests interviewed in the show presented unique perspectives on how they are adjusting to stakeholders’ changing values and making a positive impact on their consumers and employees.

The first guest on the show was Stonly Baptiste, co-founder and principal of Urban.Us, a venture fund that invests in technology-based companies influencing climate change in urban environments. Companies like Uber and Waze are inspiring to Baptiste, not only because they have been successful, but also because they have a huge impact. How? They created innovations in areas of untouched customer need, did it well, and made sure to have strong relationships with the right stakeholders.

Through his company CauseLabs, the second guest T.J. Cook helps social impact oriented organizations enhance their impact by developing innovative technological solutions around a company’s need. His human-centered design approach builds a technological presence for their client organization that is both useful for the company and engaging for the consumer.

The third guest, Frederic Laloux, hails from Belgium and is the author of Reinventing Organizations. Laloux discussed his book, which is about the idea of a new type of organization that has no hierarchical structure and fosters what employees want—a job where they are engaged and feel self-motivated.

Imagine working in a place with no job descriptions, no targets, and hardly any budgets. Instead, they are replaced with a new organizational model– one that is extraordinarily productive and purposeful.  Although difficult to imagine in practice, we agreed that this innovation could revolutionize the workforce.

In the week’s final segment, we learned about corporate social responsibility, specifically how employees can be motivated to volunteer or lend their skills to social causes. Guest Ty Walrod, is the founder and CEO of Bright Funds, a company that functions as a charitable giving advisor to employees who want to make a difference. Through an integrated platform, an employer can curate data on where their employees are donating and volunteering. This way, companies can better cater their overall social good engagement to what their employees are passionate about

As Millenials about to join the workforce, we have thought long and hard about what type of environment we are looking for in a company.

We both agreed that we do not want to drop our values at the door when going to work, and we want to know that our employer cares about us as individuals. We were both intrigued during all four of these segments to learn about companies in various sectors that are catering to their stakeholders.

Whether through providing a socially responsible service or reinventing the hierarchical structure, there are many different ways companies can encourage their employees to be more productive and profitable.

Samantha KleinSamantha Klein is a rising senior in the college majoring in Health and Societies. She is a member of the Turner Social Impact Society and is excited to be spending her summer as an Investing in Women Fellow at WSII.

Emma KloppenburgEmma Kloppenburg is also a rising senior in the college majoring in Health and Societies. She has enjoyed her time as an Investing in Women Fellow at WSII because she loves learning about innovative finance techniques and social enterprises that empower women and girls at the base of the pyramid.