How many workplace predictions did you hear during the pandemic? Employees will not go back to offices. Shaking hands is a greeting of the past. Business travel is over. Twenty months later, what have we learned? Based on my very unscientific research, some people like working from home, and others want to return ASAP. Most people are shaking hands, some are bumping fists, others are giving hugs. People are ready to travel, although video calls are a nice option.

I did not find much of this conjecture very interesting or helpful. I think the wait and see approach is much more productive, especially when we are still uncertain of what we’re going to see. However, there is some data from the pandemic that should be very useful for people managing employees and maintaining a workplace culture.

Charitable giving rose five percent in 2020. Think about this. The U.S. economy shrank by 3.5% in 2020.  Ten million workers lost their jobs. Thirty percent of small business closed. But, people leaned in to help.

Who were the most active donors? Millennials. The group born after 1981 that is a punching bag for the ills of the workforce and society. Nearly 3 out of 4 millennials contributed to a cause during the pandemic. See, they are not so bad! But, what does that have to do with the workplace?

In 2016, Millennials became the largest working generation, and they overwhelmingly want work to be more than just a place to work. Sixty-three percent feel businesses should improve society and make a profit. This data point is not just a preference. It is a deal breaker.

Seventy-one percent feel disconnected from their job, and 60% are open to a new job. What? Six out of ten people representing the largest segment of our workforce are ready to switch jobs? This type of turnover wreaks havoc on a business, and costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.

Office culture has always been somewhat of a riddle. But, while your employees were working from home, they were showing us how to behave at the office. During a time in our nation’s history when our emotional, economic and physical well-being was in jeopardy, we extended a helping hand. We found purpose, productivity and peace in community and cause. Our employees, particularly the younger ones, showed us how to bring fulfillment and connection to the workplace.

Companies that become more intentional and strategic with their giving will be more competitive. When they authentically align with a cause, they will distinguish themselves in the marketplace and attract and retain the best talent.

Richard Branson, entrepreneur, said “I think if the people who work for a business are proud of the business they work for, they’ll work that much harder, and therefore, I think turning your business into a real force for good is good business sense as well.”

Are you going to disagree with an astronaut?