Human resources report: How to increase employee engagement through corporate giving

Good corporate social responsibility or corporate giving practices can create a human connection to the company in ways that other elements of the job might ...

There’s a lot of buzz these days around how employee engagement increases productivity in the workplace. But how do you increase employee engagement?

In my experience, authentically driven corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives are an important contributor to positive employee engagement, especially if the program is designed around the company as a team.

Good CSR or corporate giving practices can create a human connection to the company in ways that other elements of the job might not. They allow the company to give back to its community and draw employees to be a part of the collective contribution. You may have heard the phrase, “A paycheque may keep a person on the job physically, but money alone will not keep a person on the job emotionally.”

CSR initiatives are most effective when they are connected to values as opposed to being compliance-driven, and when they are embedded into day-to-day business practices, as opposed to simply being an afterthought. We’ve heard from employees that they find corporate giving programs to be more impactful when they are performed by groups of employees instead of individually. Here are a few suggestions on integrating group CSR initiatives into your corporate culture.

Be the enabler for community giving

People often say that if they had more time or didn’t have to work, they would be more involved in their communities. So why not be an enabler and create the opportunity at work for employees to give back to their community?

Make it as easy as possible for them, and everyone will reap the benefits of the feelings of goodwill. At Credential Financial, not only do we offer employees one paid volunteer day each year, but we also bring the volunteer opportunities to them. We organize activities so that employees can give back during work hours and work together as a group, while connecting with colleagues and building cross-departmental relationships.

Focus on shared values

We recommend finding organizations that touch the larger issues that are meaningful to employees – this is a great motivator for them to participate in corporate giving activities. When we looked at our CSR plan, we considered the impact our actions have on each other, our partners and the places we live. As many of our staff care about children and their success in the future, we chose to collaborate with three organizations that help at-risk youth: the KidSafe Project, United Way and Directions Youth Services Centre.

Get to know your employees and see what matters to them. Send out a survey or simply have a casual coffee meeting where employees share community issues they support. After gathering this information, find the recurring patterns or trends in your employees’ values. Employees feel good about having their ideas recognized, and it also shows them that their input makes a difference.

Create opportunities to connect

Coming together in one physical space and collaborating with colleagues you might not otherwise interact with has so much more impact than simply clicking through a donations web page. For example, instead of making a single monetary donation during back-to-school season, we decided to do a project that allowed our employees to work together. The company donated the funds to purchase 100 backpacks with school supplies, and our employees organized and did all of the shopping, assembly and hand delivery of the backpacks to 100 Vancouver inner-city elementary school kids in the KidSafe program.

If there is a competitive spirit in your corporate culture, introduce a contest on top of the activity. Every Christmas at Credential, different floors compete to collect the most clothing for our Directions Youth Services Centre donations drive. Contributions are weighed weekly to keep people motivated. Simple acts like sorting donations together encourage a sense of community at the workplace. These events have been great opportunities for team-building and strengthening relationships with co-workers.

Making corporate giving programs an embedded part of your corporate culture and bringing groups of employees to give back to the community is rewarding on many levels. Keep in mind that the most important part is that the program be authentically driven and genuine. You will find that building a values-based connection with your employees will be much more effective and meaningful. •

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