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Corporate Philanthropy & Volunteering Blog

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What's Hot in Corporate Volunteering: Employee Integration

 

hot trend in giving back

This post was featured in The Huffington Post.

Human resources professionals know the drill: if you want to maximize an employee’s potential, you need to engage him as fully as possible.  That’s why attractive employee benefits and compensation packages only go so far, and why Employee Volunteer Programs are on the rise.  Want to know how to engage employees?  Corporate managers agree that volunteerism delivers big benefits with employee engagement, professional development and employee morale.  No surprise, then, that according to the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy’s 2011 Giving in Numbers survey, 89% of leading companies had a formal domestic employee volunteer program and 94% offered at least one matching gift program in 2010.

So now that businesses are increasingly engaging their employees through corporate philanthropy, what’s the next step in competing for talent?  How are companies going to up the ante?

The latest employee engagement practice is to link sustainability measures to job descriptions, bonuses and compensation packages.  It’s what the people who coin these sort of terms are calling “employee integration,” in which employees are rewarded for participating in company sustainability practices and goals.  For example, companies such as Bank of America, Google and Timberland offer cash incentives to employees who buy a hybrid or alternative fuel car.  Sony Pictures Entertainment offers employees up to $5000 for installing solar panels on their homes, and Patagonia pays employees a month’s salary and benefits if they choose to take a leave of absence to volunteer full time for an environmental cause.  

Given how much most workers - especially younger employees - value sustainability, it’s no wonder that employee integration can lead to greater employee engagement.  A recent Net Impact survey found that 45% of polled students would take a 15% pay cut in order to work for an organization that makes a social or environmental impact.  Slightly more than half of surveyed professionals reported that they are currently in a job where they can make a social or environmental impact on the world, and these respondents are more than twice as satisfied with their job than those who can’t make an impact with their jobs.  High satisfaction rates were also reported from people who were involved in workplace sustainability issues.

Corporate social responsibility innovators agree that the notion of employee integration is still evolving as companies try to figure out how to effectively weave this practice into their corporate lives.  The goal is to make employee integration important to the employee and helpful to the company’s bottom line.  But what does that look like, exactly?  Should businesses establish personal sustainability goals for each employee, or should goals be collectively set across the company?  Will individual goals detract from the collaborative and team-building effort that these kinds of initiatives inspire, which are valuable from a business management perspective?  Will collective goals diminish the sense of individual responsibility, urgency and accomplishment?  

Experts such as Chris Jarvis warn that since not everyone engages in social responsibility, some new employees may view employee integration as an obligation instead of a benefit.  That’s why it’s important for an employee to take the first step toward volunteerism and engagement on his own before employee integration is introduced as part of the parameters of his job (after all, no one likes feeling voluntold.)

Employee engagement is imperative to a company’s bottom line, so companies are constantly looking for employee engagement ideas to improve upon their existing practices.  Employee integration offers another opportunity for companies to demonstrate good corporate citizenship while encouraging employees to further their company’s CSR values.

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Comments

This is a really interesting post Ryan. Not being in the corporate world any more I had no idea these type of incentives were in place in some companies. They are some great ideas. Thanks for sharing on Bizsugar.com
Posted @ Friday, July 20, 2012 12:40 PM by Sian Phillips
Hi Ryan,  
 
Do you believe that giving cash rewards for recognizing an employee's performance is a good idea?
Posted @ Monday, July 23, 2012 8:21 PM by Emily White
I have also noticed a growing trend of companies that want to link CSR and HR in a more strategic way to support their talent management processes. 
 
Here are some of the questions that I have used when working with clients as part of that discovery process. 
 
 
 
How effective are your organization’s: 
 
•Recruitment programs at promoting the range of corporate citizenship involvement and their benefits to employees? 
 
 
 
•Skills Development programs at integrating talent development and community partnership needs? 
 
 
 
•Performance and Rewards programs at integrating community engagement objectives and scorecard measures at the Leadership level? 
 
Posted @ Thursday, August 02, 2012 7:49 AM by Dave
Ryan, 
 
Excellent article. I couldn't agree more on your point about the importance of employee engagement. Not only do EVPs help provide employees with a sense of purpose, they also help develop/fine-tune new skills. 
 
I was very interested in the section about company sustainability programs. What a great way to get employees involved and reward them at the same time.  
 
Do you think EVPs are more successful when the company provides paid time off to volunteer? From what I've seen, this is a great way to increase involvement in an EVP. Has anyone else experienced this?
Posted @ Tuesday, August 07, 2012 1:10 PM by Krista B.
Paid time off to volunteer is a huge benefit and can really help folks get engaged. The average married person with kids simply does not have time to go volunteer on their own. And furthermore, employee engagement benefit doesn't really come from an employee volunteering on his own time by himself. It comes from employees engaging with each other. So time off, yes, definitely helps. And group activities are really key for employee engagement and team building. 
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