By Jeff Somers, Mediaplanet Editorial Team
This piece was originally published in Mediaplanet's Employee Well-Being 2017 campaign on 03/15/2017
Corporate “culture” has never been more top-of-mind in management circles. Yet, most executives would agree that cultivating it is one of their biggest strategic challenges as they adapt to the shifting dynamics of a diverse, multigenerational workforce.
According to Glassdoor, the popular employer rating site, the top indicator for workplace happiness across all pay levels is culture and values. Attracting, retaining and engaging today’s socially conscious workforce is a key strategic priority for any company of any size. With stats showing the true cost of turnover — up to 213 per cent of an employee’s salary — more and more companies are realizing that creating a sense of purpose at work is a critical component for engagement, which has positive effects on employee well-being, productivity and ultimately, corporate performance. In fact, U.S. employees who are highly engaged report fewer sick days, stay longer with their companies, are able to weather more organizational change, and tend to be higher performers.
Give people what they want
Millennials will make up 50 per cent of the workforce by 2020, which goes up to 75% by 2025. Studies have shown that this group prefers a career that gives them a chance to make a difference — 88 per cent of them say their job is more fulfilling when they can. Today’s workforce wants to work for companies that offer a greater sense of purpose and support them in living their values; for today’s younger worker, it’s about work/life integration. So, smart companies are weaving user-empowered giving back — donating, matching and volunteering — into their employee experience and are seeing positive business outcomes as a result.
Low cost, big return
According to Benevity, software partner to many of the world’s most iconic brands, employee volunteering is up 171% from the previous year and it’s only going to keep growing. Spark, Benevity’s award-winning cloud solution, is used by hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies to power corporate “Goodness” programs that offer opportunities for employees across the globe to support the causes that matter to them through online donations, “friendraising” tools, real-time gift matching and easy, mobile-friendly volunteer sign-up and time tracking capabilities.
Companies are encouraging their people to engage in pro-social activities at work in more creative ways than ever. Instead of the conventional approach of a once-a-year arm twisting exercise, companies are democratizing their approach to connecting with social causes. For example, employees are allowed to bring in puppies from a local animal shelter, do a 5k fundraising run as a departmental or team activity, build science kits for schoolchildren at lunch, or use esoteric skills to help NGOs with expertise they don’t have.
“This diversity is the face of corporate volunteerism today,” says Bryan de Lottinville, Founder and CEO of Benevity. “It is setting the wheels in motion for companies to cultivate the purpose-driven culture people crave.”
The goal has to be employee engagement
Employer wellness programs are a good start, but they are not enough. It’s been shown that engaged employees are more likely to avail themselves of wellness programs than their disengaged counterparts. The key, then, is focusing on employee engagement.
High-performing corporate volunteer program have something in common: they are flexible enough to accommodate a wide spectrum of ages, abilities, interests, skill sets and lifestyles and they reward volunteering activity with “dollars for doers” or volunteer grants. When integrated with a workplace giving program and donation currency incentives, these programs have exponential returns: people who donate money tend to volunteer more, and people who volunteer donate more dollars.
Giving back creates both business and social impact. It empowers employees to bring their personal passions to work, which creates a unique emotional bond between employer and employee, helping to drive authentic employee engagement and laying the groundwork for healthier mindsets at work.