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Five ways to boost employee engagement

By Vivian Farris

 

Engagement, or lack thereof, is a topic that’s always top-of-mind for today’s HR professionals.

According to Gallup’s most recent State of the Global Workplace report, “Eighty-five per cent of employees are not engaged or actively disengaged at work,” – an issue that’s estimated to cost organizations approximately $7 trillion in lost productivity worldwide.

Companies continue to try a myriad of approaches to solve disengagement – from fun perks like free food deliveries and office ping pong tables to team building exercises, benefits and more – but does this really address the root cause?

It turns out that altruistic purpose may be a better driver of engagement than perks. Increasingly, today’s socially-conscious generation of workers want their jobs to have meaning beyond just “making a living.” A recent study on employee engagement found that 74 per cent of employees surveyed “say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact at work.” For Millennials – soon to be the largest segment of the global workforce – the percentage with this response was even higher at 88 per cent.

And just as employees’ expectations are changing, the corporate landscape is changing too. As traditional, top-down organizational structures are giving way to more egalitarian, team-based environments that value innovation and collaboration, more companies are looking for ways to create an inspiring, purpose-driven workplace culture.

Passion and purpose
impacts performance

Corporations that focus on infusing their employee experience with passion and purpose are reaping significant benefits. Recently, Benevity evaluated the activity of more than two million users from 188 enterprise companies and found that turnover dropped by an average of 57 per cent in the employee group most deeply connected to their companies’ giving and volunteering efforts.

Clearly, there are strong links between passion, purpose and performance, and Benevity is increasingly seeing that employee-centric “Goodness” programs – which include giving, volunteering, grant making and prosocial actions – are a potent driver of employee engagement. When people are empowered to be their best selves at work and in their daily lives, the entire organization (and the world) benefits.

Building a purpose-driven
employee experience

So how can you, as an HR professional, harness Goodness to boost employee engagement? The good news is that you don’t need a big strategy session or expensive consultants. You can begin by leveraging your existing giving, volunteering, grant making and other social impact programs. Here are five practical ways to get started:

1. Showcase your company’s social mission

Today’s workers want to belong to organizations that share their values. Whether it’s diversity and inclusion, environmental sustainability, investing in the local community or all of the above, advertising your company’s social mission in job postings and internal communications can not only help attract and retain more employees, but also people who are a good fit for your culture. For example, in some companies, employees aren’t even aware of the grants their employer makes to charities and non-profits. Letting them know – and potentially matching employee donations to those causes – can help engender a sense of pride and connection to their place of employment. When employees’ core values are aligned with those of their company, there’s a greater chance that they will be satisfied and engaged in their jobs.

2. Refresh your benefits program with social impact in mind

Foosball and free lunches are all well and good but supporting the causes your people are most passionate about will really light their fires; especially when that support comes as paid volunteer time and donation matching. Making these Goodness-related “perks” part of your benefits program is a great way to attract and retain talent. Whether it’s committing a set amount of matching dollars for each employee on an annual basis, letting employees choose which causes they support or offering paid volunteer time, there are a number of ways that HR departments can leverage Goodness as a benefit without any additional investments or costs.

3. Embed Goodness into training and development programs

Start early. Adding a volunteer component to your new hire orientation program is a good way to introduce people to your corporate Goodness initiatives and foster a purpose-driven culture right out of the gate. In fact, a Deloitte survey on volunteerism showed that 70 per cent of respondents believe volunteer activities are more likely to boost employee morale than company-sponsored happy hours.

Benevity uses this approach to begin engaging their employees early with Goodness. New employees take part in a volunteer activity during their week-long company orientation and this sets the tone for their corporate culture. This kind of event is cost-effective and also gives employees the opportunity to have fun and begin building meaningful relationships with their coworkers and the local community. Additionally, it teaches employees how to track their volunteer time in your company’s CSR software, making them more likely to use the software to do more good in the future.

4. Get people engaged in doing good

Most of today’s workforce are looking for ways to make their work have more meaning and impact. One way many companies are doing this is through programs that empower people to participate in gamified activities that promote prosocial action. This is the basis of Benevity’s recently announced Missions product. Companies like PayPal are using it to get their people involved in challenges that promote sustainable behaviour where employees sign up for activities to reduce their carbon footprint, water and waste consumption and increase their energy savings. The best part of these programs is that they appeal to employees across various demographics and locations and have seen great participation from remote workers, who often struggle to find tangible ways to engage with a company’s culture and values.

5. Let data guide your decisions

Before setting out to build the employee experience of your people’s dreams, you’ll need to first understand what those dreams are. How do they prefer to engage? Which causes really fuel their passions? When are they most likely to participate? Gaining these valuable insights will help you make the most effective decisions. And here’s where the right technology can be a game-changer. When all of your people’s Goodness activities are tracked in one place, it is far easier to gain actionable insights into your people’s passions and preferences; helping you to build even more effective and resonant programs. For example, Total Quality Logistics used employee giving data to discover that their people were passionate about supporting the military and veterans, and then built programs around that pillar to further increase engagement.

According to a Great Place to Work survey of more than 350,000 organizations, people who felt their employers made a positive impact on the world were four times more likely to indicate their teams give extra to get the job done; 11 times more likely to say they plan to stay with their organizations for the long haul and 14 times more likely to say they look forward to coming to work. The bottom line is that when it comes to the employee experience, Goodness matters.

Vivian Farris is VP people at Benevity.

 

 

 

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