Property Australia

Property Industry Foundation helps millenials find their purpose


How do you maintain your Millennial workforce in an increasingly mobile world? The Property Industry Foundation and Slattery have a smart solution. It’s called “giving back”.

Millennials – people born between 1981 and 1996 – will make up 75 per cent of Australia’s workforce by 2025. As they reshape the working world, they are also reimagining workplace giving.

This cohort is mobile, ambitious and hungry for experience. Millennials crave jobs with purpose. They prioritise work-life balance over remuneration and reward.

And far from spending their last dollar on smashed avo, Millennials and their younger colleagues, Gen Z, are the most generous givers – both of time and money – in Australia.

According to the Australia Giving report, released by not-for-profit Good2Give in March, Millennials are the most likely to give money to charity, with 60 per cent donating in the last year.

But millennials want to hand over more than their cash, with the report finding they are nearly likely (34%) to volunteer their time than baby boomers (18%).

Hidden in these statistics is a huge opportunity, says Property Industry Foundation CEO Kate Mills.

“We see many young people in the industry enthusiastically stepping forward to help make a difference.  The Property Industry Foundation, which is tackling the persistent problem of youth homelessness, is one way that young people in the sector can help other young people,” Mills says.

Of the 110,000 homeless people in Australia, 43,000 young Australians are currently living on the streets, in refuges or in unsafe circumstances.

Mills believes that youth homelessness is a problem that the property industry should own, “because we are the ones that are in the best place to solve it.”

Established in 1996, the Foundation has raised more than $25 million. Half of money raised by the Foundation funds the construction of group homes for at-risk and homeless young people which are then run by charities. The other half supports counselling services, employment and education programs and early intervention.

Fifty-six bedrooms in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane have been constructed, with 30 more in development.

The Melbourne City Mission’s Frontyard Youth Services – Victoria’s largest crisis service for homeless or at-risk youth – has undergone an $8 million overhaul and now provides bedrooms.

The redevelopment includes two floors of accommodation for those who are currently sleeping rough in the city. It also features kitchens for young people to cook a meal, sensory rooms for quiet contemplation and offices and consulting rooms for health and legal services.

Quantity surveying firm Slattery is one of the partners providing pro bono professional services on the project.

Slattery director Crawford Fulton says the issue of homelessness is something that resonates with his team.

“Our Melbourne office is located in the CBD, so our people see homelessness every day and the impact it has on young lives and the community. We are thrilled to be able to contribute,” he says.

Working with PIF offers younger members of the Slattery team the chance to sharpen both their technical and soft skills, while providing a sense of purpose and an avenue for their passion that keeps them engaged.

“Everyone in our team believes in making the world a better place through the built environment,” Fulton says, adding that says his company “gives back” through involvement with a variety of charities tackling homelessness and disadvantage in the built environment, including HomeGround Real Estate, Streat and Summer Housing.

But for Millennials seeking purpose, a project like this provides meaning, aligns their skills and passions and boosts professional development, Fulton adds.

Quantity surveyor Lisa Creegan worked on the project, and says she valued the opportunity to “contribute to a cause that strikes communities everywhere”.

“Knowing the underlying purpose of the refurbishment project certainly made me feel much more invested,” Creegan says.

Working on the project “brought focus to my own life, and how much family and other circumstances can impact on people’s direction and what they can achieve.

“I’ve worked at Slattery for nearly a year now, coming from Ireland to take up the opportunity. It was a big decision to move to Australia so having projects like this affirms my decision was the right one – and that Slattery’s values and approach are progressive and engaged with the community.”

Just last week, Macquarie University released the findings from a major international study which found nearly one in five business school students are willing to take a 40 per cent pay cut to work for a responsible employer.

“Millennials are purpose-driven employees who are looking to create a positive impact on the wider world. And the Property Industry Foundation’s projects provide this positive impact, with meaningful work, connections to the community and a chance to give back,” Mills adds.

“By giving young people in the property industry a chance to get out and get involved, employers can provide enrichment opportunities, retain their best young talent and help some of our community’s most vulnerable people.”