According to a survey of nearly 1,600 United States employees by America’s Charities, companies that build effective workplace giving and volunteering programs have a significant leg up when it comes to attracting talent.
America’s Charities’ employee research found nearly 6 in 10 workplace donors want to work for companies where the culture supports giving and volunteering.
That’s a significant number, and it shows that today’s employees are placing a high value on charitable opportunities in the workplace.
However, while a growing number of employers are providing these opportunities, it’s not enough to simply set up a giving program or organize employee volunteer outings. Socially minded employees are looking for companies that embed giving in their culture — and that offer them meaningful opportunities to make a difference.
What can your company do to ensure that it’s creating an employee engagement program that truly connects with your employees?
Based on America’s Charities’ research over the past decade and its ongoing work with employers, employees, and charities, your company should make sure its program is achieving these five objectives:
1. Articulate and demonstrate your corporate values
Today’s workers want more than just a steady paycheck. They want to work for organizations that are making a difference. More than 7 in 10 of the employees surveyed for America’s Charities’ Snapshot Employee Research said they want to work for employers who have missions and values that align with their own personal values. What’s more, nearly 6 in 10 workplace donors say they want to work for companies where the culture supports giving and volunteering.
As a result, employers that can articulate their corporate values — and build programs that support those values — have a leg up in the battle for talent.
Some companies actively seek to build giving and volunteering programs that connect closely to their work — and to the ideals they are trying to convey.
For example, the insurance company New York Life has developed a workplace volunteering program that closely aligns with the day-to-day work for its agents who sell life insurance. Each September, New York Life employees and agents volunteer at bereavement camps and schools and raise money to support childhood bereavement and education programs.
These activities connect directly to the company’s work — which often involves providing support for families who have lost a parent.
“For employees who sit in an office all day, the opportunity to have contact with children who have lost a parent helps them see why the work they are doing is making a difference,” says Matthew A. Nelson, New York Life’s corporate vice president of corporate responsibility.
2. Build a culture that supports giving and volunteering
If your company is looking to fully engage its employees, it is important to remember that it needs to do more than simply offer a workplace-giving or volunteering option.
You must make it clear that the company values and supports giving back.
America’s Charities’ snapshot employee research found that employees are more likely to participate in workplace philanthropy if the company is willing to provide incentives such as paid time off to volunteer, matching gifts, and volunteer service grants.
Employees are also looking for programs that make it easy for them to give — particularly through the use of technology that allows them to select worthy charities and track their participation.
When it comes to workplace giving and volunteering, what companies get depends on what they put in. Employees are much more likely to give and participate if their employers show them that they fully support these activities.
3. Get buy-in from senior leadership
A great corporate culture starts with great leadership. The same is true for a great corporate giving and volunteering program.
More than half of the employees surveyed for America’s Charities’ research said they make decisions on where to work, at least in part, on the involvement of senior leadership in their giving and volunteering program. As a result, if your business wants to spotlight the value of its philanthropy, it’s important for senior management to be actively involved.
This means more than putting on a t-shirt and posing for photos at a volunteering event for a news release. It means rolling up your sleeves and working side by side with your employee volunteers — and making sure you’re contributing your own money to the causes.
4. Make it social
The modern workplace has changed — and employees are looking for opportunities to connect with their colleagues.
Workplace giving and volunteering have become avenues to restoring the connections that have been lost as times have changed.
According to America’s Charities’ Snapshot Employee Research, employees say they are craving programs and events that help them connect with their coworkers — and they are seeking workplaces that provide such programs.
“The desire to give back and volunteer are important to our core sense of self,” said Junelle Kroontje, administrator for the King County Employee Giving Program in Washington. “But many people, when they look at all of their day-to-day responsibilities, they don’t have the time to engage in these activities. As employers, we’re providing a way to bridge the personal/professional experience.”
5. Show your impact
All of these factors won’t fully hit the mark if employees do not see evidence that their giving and volunteering efforts are making a difference.
Employees say the most important part of a positive donation experience is trust that their money will be well spent by the nonprofit. In fact, four out of five America’s Charities’ Snapshot Employee survey respondents said this is necessary for a positive donation experience.
Another 7 in 10 report that they need to have ample information about the nonprofit.
The same trends hold true for employees who take part in volunteering programs. Nearly 7 in 10 employees who responded said that a clearly organized project with a defined scope and expected results is essential to a positive volunteer experience. Another 65 percent said they need ample information about the nonprofit to have a positive experience.
The message to employers and nonprofits is clear: you have to clearly show that your philanthropic programs are making an impact. Trust is essential, and the ability to tell your story and show results is central to building that trust.
Employee Engagement is more than just an opportunity to recruit and retain the best and brightest in the workforce. Company-hosted programs are an efficient and effective way to give back, and this particular type of fundraising benefits each stakeholder of social change at work – employees, charities, and employers.