Engaging employees at the intersection of purpose and philanthropy
By: Carol Cone
NORTHAMPTON, MA /ACCESSWIRE/November 21, 2022/ Can companies with mature goal-oriented businesses leverage corporate foundations and philanthropy as part of this goal-oriented mindset? If so, how does this philanthropic element translate into recruitment, retention, employee satisfaction and productivity? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is in layers.
Often, companies first want to make sure that this goal is not confused with philanthropy, old-fashioned CSR, or more modern thinking about corporate responsibility and ESG. At the same time, more forward-looking companies are aligning philanthropy with business-relevant issues and building employee engagement programs that are more robust and impactful than volunteering in t-shirts 1x/yr. (although it might have its place).
Whether philanthropy drives recruitment may depend on the program and how it is operated. The Cisco Networking Academy and Amex’s Travel and Tourism Academies not only build competitive context, but also brand affinity. This is probably the most analogous to what we are discussing. Salesforce absolutely uses its 1-1-1 model as an advantage in recruiting, in part because it exemplifies the company’s ohana culture. A much smaller cohort of attention-grabbing companies like Warby Parker rely on philanthropy to advance their purpose, which they use effectively to attract talent.
The extent to which philanthropy translates to employee engagement results may depend on what we mean by philanthropy and how it is implemented. Above all, philanthropy cannot come across as a “lock” or an attempt to provide public relations cover for problematic culture or business practices. Authentic efforts can pay off: A meta-analysis from a former U.S. Chamber of Commerce team found that aligned programs can boost employee engagement by 13% and reduce churn by up to at 50%. The programs that produce these results have set the bar very high.
The most successful companies embed philanthropy deeply into all aspects of the employee experience. Campbell mapped the employee journey, including giving (roughly) as one of the “moments that matter.” Others build donations into their EVP, which can be more effective with notable perks like playful donations (Kellogg ran a fun “final 4” style competition during the pandemic), strong matching donation programs ( Soros Fund Management matches up to $100,000 per year per employee, providing a 3:1 match for employees), donations for acting programs (Apple matches $50 per volunteer hour with a minimum of one hour). For each hour after the initial 20 hours, Intel donates $10 to the charity, with a cap of $15,000 for schools and $10,000 for other nonprofits, and above the median of 8 hours of paid time off for volunteering. For example, Novo Nordisk offers 80 hours of paid volunteering. Other companies promote their sabbaticals or volunteer trips, such as J&J, which offers 2 weeks of volunteer time off, including a fully paid week, and Patagonia conservation trips to (yes) Patagonia.
Some companies like PwC leverage volunteering as part of their leadership development programs, for example bringing together teams with diverse management and financial skills to advise non-profit organizations (and, sometimes, veterinary NGOs for their corporate giving efforts) or by enlisting hi-po talent to lead volunteer programs. . IBM Service Corps participants have been part of 275 teams in nearly 40 countries, generating $70 million in market value across 1,000 projects since 2008. Accenture’s development partnerships integrate employees with NGOs for a period up to six months. The Toyota Production Systems Support Center (TSSC) has partnered with Children’s Health to improve patient safety and care, reducing rates of central line-associated bloodstream infections by 75 percent.
Increasingly, we are seeing companies link philanthropy and employee engagement to their DEI commitments as well, engaging DREs in program activation (and, to a lesser extent, program design). Comcast NBCUniversal, for example, links its ERGs and volunteer portal. They communicate the connection to their values and culture, and maintain engagement through internal communications, outreach and manager alignment. Often companies incorporate elements of team building. One example that I love, though not limited to volunteering, comes from consultancy Solstice, which offers an extra PTO day called Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (FBDO). The only rule? Employees need to do something epic.
PNC Financial Services is very deliberate in providing individual and team volunteer opportunities as part of its nearly 20-year commitment to the cause of early childhood education through its flagship Grow Up Great program. It revealed that employees involved in their (extremely robust) initiative were about 7 times more engaged at work. These results have been echoed in other research.
A Deloitte survey found that 89% of employees believe companies that sponsor volunteer activities provide a better overall work environment, 70% believe volunteer activities are more likely to boost staff morale than employee-sponsored happy hours. company, and more than three quarters say that volunteering is essential to the well-being of employees. The Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) found that 93% of employees who volunteer through their company say they are satisfied with their employer.
Part of the impact comes from alignment with business purpose and strategy. Humana’s vision is to help people achieve lifelong wellness that goes beyond physical health to live happily with a balanced sense of purpose. This comes to life via Humana’s bold goal which was to improve the health of the communities they serve by 20% by 2020 (since updated) and which includes their employee volunteering strategy – clearly linked to a larger goal. Companies like Biogen even tie part of executive compensation to ESG, with employee engagement as part of their KPIs.
While the examples above can generate powerful results, it takes time and real commitment.
Carol Cone, CEO of Carol Cone ON PURPOSE, pioneered the field of social purpose in the 1980s and is now widely recognized as one of the world’s foremost social impact experts. His work has exceeded organizational goals, won hundreds of awards and raised billions of dollars for a variety of outstanding causes. Learn more about CarolConeONPURPOSE.com.
Discover additional media content and other ESG stories from Carol Cone ON PURPOSE at 3blmedia.com.
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