Submitted by Spring Lacy
More and more, employees want to know how the work they do every day matters. They are seeking purpose in their jobs and are looking to their employers to provide it. As an employer how do you ensure your employees are truly excited and passionate about your organization’s mission? This question is increasingly on the minds of business leaders, particularly in a world where employees are busier than ever and changing jobs more frequently.
We know that an employee’s ability to relate to and engage with an organization’s mission is critical to their satisfaction and ultimately a business’ bottom line. Numerous studies show that employees who are engaged in their company’s mission have higher levels of productivity, are more likely to be promoted and less likely to leave for another company. Volunteering is a tangible way to ignite employee passion and build meaningful connections with an employer’s mission and purpose.
In a recent survey of Prudential employees, 98 percent said that Prudential’s community involvement is important to them, and that volunteer activities positively impact their perception of the company. The majority also said they learned something new or enhanced their business skills by participating in Prudential-led volunteer activities.
There are a number of strategies that we’ve implemented at Prudential that have helped employees engage with our mission, and drive participation.
1. Inspire Meaningful Engagement
Creating opportunities for employees to use their business skills while volunteering is a particularly valuable strategy because it brings meaningful results for both the community and the employee. Last year we hosted our first ScopeAthon, a pro-bono volunteering event in partnership with the Taproot Foundation, where corporate executives provide their professional skills to local nonprofit organizations. In addition to providing local nonprofits with valuable expertise in key business areas, this unique opportunity allowed our employees to take their expertise outside of their day-to-day functions and apply them to their community. After participating, employees told us that they have a stronger sense of the company’s purpose and the role that Prudential’s office of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plays in supporting that purpose. They also told us that they feel a greater sense of pride for their work, are more invested in the company and were able to expand their skills and perspective.
2. Create a Culture of Giving
Our research shows it’s important to employees to know that the company they work for supports the issues and causes they are most passionate about. Organizations can encourage employees to do this by providing employee driven grant and incentive programs such as matching gifts or volunteer grants. Although all of our “company sponsored” volunteer opportunities align with the company’s CSR strategy, we offer programs that give employees time and resources to support the things they care most about – even if it doesn’t align with our strategy. Through our Prudential CARES programs, the company offers the opportunity to have charitable donations matched, earn grant dollars based on the hours volunteered and provides one day off each year to volunteer.
3. Spread the Good News
Employees are more likely to feel engaged in an organization’s mission if they have visibility into all of the great work the organization does. Keeping employees informed helps them understand the importance of their organization’s mission, how they can get involved and how their colleagues are connected. For example, your organization may share updates on new volunteer opportunities or initiatives, recap previous ones or demonstrate thought leadership in a relevant area. This can be disseminated through a dedicated intranet, company newsletter or both. Making sure employees are educated on their company’s efforts helps to foster an environment of engagement.
4. Say Thank You
Recognizing the time and effort that volunteers spend creating meaningful change in communities creates a culture that demonstrates to employees that their efforts are valued and appreciated. Recognition can be informal and formal with project leaders taking the time at the end of an activity to thank volunteers, review the work that was done and reflect on how that contributed to the success of the initiative. More formalized programs engage executives, provide grants to nonprofits in recognition of an employee’s service and recognize the employee through internal and external communications. This can go a long way in encouraging employees to continue their volunteer work as it demonstrates that the organization recognizes and values the work and underscores the organization’s commitment to their social platform.
Employees are truly the heart of any organization, so it’s particularly important for nonprofit and purpose-driven organizations to engage employees as brand and issues advocates. Doing so is a win-win for the organization and the employee, and ultimately helps strengthen the ability of the organization to make a true, and lasting, impact.
Join me at the Charities@Work Summit on Employee Engagement in Corporate Citizenship March 28-30 in New York City. For more information, go to www.charitiesatwork.org.