9 Employee Engagement Ideas You Need to Know About

Guest post by Daniel Pawlak

A version of this post originally appeared on the Snacknation website.

45% of employees are not engaged at work.

Source: Dale Carnegie

Employee engagement and retention are at the top of the priority list for modern day HR managers. Of course, every company wants to attract and KEEP the best talent.

The problem?

We see so many employees in the job market today becoming uninspired and bored of their work, just to quit their job and begin the job hunt after less than two years.

We decided to speak with some of the best HR professionals all across the country to discover their very own employee engagement strategies.

Below are 9 of the best employee engagement ideas you should be applying in your office.

1. Get your health and wellness program in order.

Kevin Sheridan, New York Times best-selling author of Building a Magnetic Culture, has helped the world’s largest corporations improve and cultivate productive work environments.

We asked Kevin what he thought companies should be doing to improve workplace engagement:

kevin_sheridan“The bottom line is that anyone who knows about employee engagement is also a firm believer in instituting health and wellness programs. There have been multiple scientific studies proving that health and wellness efforts not only yield higher productivity and engagement in the workplace but will also help reduce turnover, as job stress is the #1 reason people quit (along with a lack of work-life balance which is related to wellness as well).”

2. Align your company with a purpose

Snacknation CEO Sean Kelly recently gave a presentation at HR Star Conference to over 850 human resource professionals. In his presentation, titled “Millennials in the Workplace,” he discussed the importance of aligning your company with a purpose. He emphasized that it’s not about focusing on “what” you do, so much as “why” you do it.

3. Emphasize work-life balance.

We hear the term “work-life balance” all the time, and in theory it seems pretty straightforward. However, finding an optimal work-life balance can seem like an impossible struggle for some. It can be challenging to find the right balance between work life, and personal life, without neglecting one or the other.

Blake McCammon from Blogging4Jobs, a popular HR blog, shared his thoughts about the role of work-life balance in employee engagement.

Blake“Work-life balance is one of the most important things employers can do to help employees not only stay healthy and fit, but keep them engaged day by day. Provide a work from home scenario and flexible hours where employees with children or adults with hobbies are allowed the freedom to enjoy life to the fullest, but still get their work done.”


4. Stand for something your team can be proud of.

We asked Irene Becker, voted as one of the top 100 Employee Engagement Experts Online, to answer the question of how companies implement and sustain employee engagement activities when engagement is at an all time low.

Irene-Becker-profile“By showing our employees that we care, that we stand for something they can be proud of, and that we offer them meaningful, purposeful work and an opportunity to grow, learn, contribute and succeed because we know that success is a me to WE equation that starts with:

  1. Personal, professional development and a structure for growth and recognition are alive in the organization.
  2. Managers, mentors and trainers that are equipped to coach, inspire and bring out the best in their people.
  3. Communities of purpose; groups that are centered around a purpose driven business, CSR or community activity are alive, aligning shared values and mission with collaboration.
  4. Transparency of communication and the integrity of the organizations commitment to growth, recognition and the optimization of individual and collective potential is mirrored in new ways of developing team spirit and vertical/horizontal collaboration.
  5. Human interaction, social activities that engage our people as human beings in the human side of being part of a vibrant, growing, thriving culture.”

5. Promote perks that boost mental and physical well being.

Perks are a great way to make your office a more fun place to work and keep employees happy. JellyVision Interactive Marketing, for example, offers some unique perks for their employees:

  • Unlimited vacation days (with the assumption this privilege won’t be abused)
  • The ability to work from home whenever necessary or work out an unconventional schedule
  • On-site yoga and a free healthy catered lunches every week
  • Company refrigerators and cupboards stocked with fruit and healthy snacks
  • A yearly Wellness Day featuring free 15-minute back massages for every employee and a taste test of unusual, healthy juices
  • Mustache Day (a sort of mustache-themed Halloween that culminates in a fancy lunch out)
  • Frequent company-wide involvement in charity fun runsMustache Day

6. Provide ongoing coaching and training.

A study done by Deloitte in 2012 found that employee retention is 25% higher for employees who had participated in company-sponsored mentorship.

Coaching and mentorship should be an ongoing process that doesn’t end after the employee’s initial on-boarding. Although some people in your organization will proactively seek mentorship, others may not be as forward about it. Offering an optional weekly coaching session to discuss strategies and ideas to help different members of your organization improve can make a huge difference.

7. Open consistent lines of communication.

Asking for feedback from workers can help you learn about issues and resolve problems before they escalate. Some of your employees may have helpful ideas about improving workplace efficiency, but you’ll never hear them unless you establish open communication with your staff.

Ask managers of your organization to setup weekly meetings to see where their direct reports need resources, and any new ideas they may have. You’ll quickly discover that both managers and direct reports look forward to these meetings, and strategically use them to improve their departments on a weekly basis.

8. Offer healthier options at your workplace.

We spoke with Jason Lauritsen, Director of Best Places to Work at Quantum Workplace, about how to increase employee engagement by making healthier foods available on site.

jason-lauritsenThree-fourths of employees want access to a healthy cafeteria or vending options at their workplace, but less than half of employers actually offer it as a benefit. This creates a great opportunity. Not only will providing this benefit help organizations play a role in boosting productivity, increasing performance, and lowering healthcare costs, but we’ve also found that employees who work at organizations that provide healthy cafeteria or vending options are 10 percent more likely to be engaged.”

9. Encourage volunteering

Corporate Volunteers

Most people want to feel that they are contributing to a greater cause in their lives.

Committing to one’s work and becoming involved in a cause gives employees a greater sense of purpose. 71% of employees who participated in an LGB Associates survey about employee volunteer programs indicated that they felt more positive about their company as a result of these programs. Purpose driven work through a cause is linked to improved productivity and morale, which can make a huge impact of your company’s bottom line.


Focusing your attention on engaging employees results in higher productivity, better retention rates and improvements in organizational success. Now it’s your turn to take these ideas and apply them in your office.

If you liked these tips, please share your thoughts! For more easy and actionable tips to increase engagement at your workplace, check out Snacknation.com.

About this author: Daniel Pawlak is the Marketing Coordinator at Snacknation. His goal is to help companies become incredible places to work by improving employee health, productivity and engagement. 

It’s Time to Vote for the 2015 Innovation Award Winner!

Vote for the 2015 Innovation Award Winner“Innovation” is not always the first word that comes to mind when people think of nonprofits. Why is this? Across the globe, nonprofits are making huge strides in solving problems and making the world a better place. And many are doing this through innovative partnerships with corporations.

At the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit, we want to recognize these original and cutting-edge nonprofits. That’s why we created the Innovation Award.

We’ve reached out to our family of corporate clients and asked them to nominate their favorite nonprofit partners – the ones driving change by thinking outside the box.

Out of these nominations, we’ve narrowed it down to three finalists. And now we need your help.

Check out the stories of these three groundbreaking partnerships and vote for your favorite.

Pay special attention to how well the partnerships engage corporate employees in volunteering, how well the partnership goes beyond traditional partnership models, and how well the partnership has documented progress and wide reach.

The winner will be announced December 1st at the VolunteerMatch Summit. If you haven’t yet, get your Summit ticket today.

Photo credit: Missy Schmidt

The Best Employee Volunteer Programs of 2014

At VolunteerMatch, we’re privileged to work with some of the best employee volunteer programs out there. And we’re also privileged to be able to publicly recognize these companies for their amazing work.

2014 Employee Volunteer Program of the Year award being presented to Old National Bank.

Today, we announced the top 10 finalists for Employee Volunteer Program of the year. VolunteerMatch selects finalists for this award from its community of over 150 corporate clients. The award is performance-based, determined by four benchmark measures in 2014, which together indicate an outstanding employee volunteer program. The 2014 award recipients were Morgan Stanley and Old National Bank.

The 2015 winners will be recognized at a ceremony during the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit, to be held December 1-2, 2015 in Oakland, CA.

In the coming weeks on this blog, we’ll bring you a Q&A with each finalist, giving you in inside look at how they’re able to uniquely engage their employees in volunteering, and the successes they’ve seen. In the meantime, here is the list of 2015 finalists:

Employee Volunteer Program of the Year (Large Size Business):
Morgan Stanley
Union Bank

Employee Volunteer Program of the Year (Small-Medium Size Business):
1st Source Bank
City National Bank
Independent Bank
Old National Bank

We also announced today the finalists for the brand new ‘Innovation Award’, recognizing a nonprofit organization driving change through a cutting-edge corporate partnership. Learn more about the Innovation Award, and cast your vote for the winner.

Congratulations to this year’s finalists!

Meet Angela Parker, 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit Speaker

In December 2015, CSR professionals, employee engagement enthusiasts, VolunteerMatch clients, and national nonprofits will come together at the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit (#VMSummit15). In this series of blog posts, I’ll introduce you to the numerous experts who will make an appearance as Summit speakers.

Angela Parker, 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit SpeakerName: Angela Parker

Title: Co-founder and Senior Partner

Organization: Realized Worth

What is your session about?

Basically, it’s about how corporations and nonprofits can work better together. There are some simple understandings and practices that quickly increase the capacity of employee volunteering and giving programs while simultaneously increasing the competencies of the employees who are involved.

Companies and nonprofits are becoming savvier partners as corporate social responsibility becomes an expected element of business operations, but we’re still too far away from the results we should be seeing. Companies, communities, and employees should be experiencing measurable benefits from corporate volunteering and giving programs. The information and suggestions in this session will get attendees one step (or hopefully several steps!) closer to realizing those benefits.

There are some simple understandings and practices that quickly increase the capacity of employee volunteering and giving programs while simultaneously increasing the competencies of the employees who are involved.

Why should attendees care about this topic?

Truthfully, I’m not a huge fan of the word “should.” People don’t care about things just because they should. If that were the case, we would all be fit and thin and never drink too much and watch less TV. Instead, we care about the things that trigger certain rewards. We eat cookies because sugar releases a chemical concoction in our brains that makes us feel good. We watch movies because they connect us to a sense of story and a greater purpose. One thing’s for sure: We don’t care about things we’ve never experienced. If you have never personally experienced the transformative power of volunteering, you probably don’t care about this topic.

So, let’s back up. Here are some reasons you might care about this topic already – even if you don’t know you do:

Have you ever wondered why companies volunteer at all? Or how many companies have volunteering giving programs now? Or how volunteering can influence employee engagement? We’ll get into all of these topics in the session.

Curious about the latest volunteering and giving trends across nonprofits and corporations? Definitely something we’ll cover.

How about this: Do you want to laugh a little, get a little smarter, and hear some great stories? The best part of this session might simply be that you’ll enjoy yourself. And when we talk about the difference between transactional and transformative volunteering, you might even find yourself inspired.

Hope to see you there!

What is a professional achievement you are particularly proud of?

I suppose I can’t claim this as my own achievement, but I’m proud of my team’s commitment to Realized Worth. There was a time that it felt like “my” company, but now it feels like “ours.” Everyone carries the mission of the company as their own – they believe on a very personal level in the power of corporate volunteering. Each team member contributes significantly to making the work more effective and the company more efficient. Like I said, it’s not really my accomplishment, but I’m proud. Believing in something together is so much easier than believing alone.

To learn more about Angela, check out her biography on our Summit speakers’ page. And if you haven’t yet, register today for the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit!

Getting Closer to the Triple Bottom Line with VTO

By Denise Howell, VolunteerMatch CFO

VolunteerMatch Employees Volunteering at Friends of the Urban Forest, 2014

VolunteerMatch employees volunteering with Friends of the Urban Forest, 2014

For businesses, nonprofits and government, measuring and reporting on their success is no longer just about profitability, shareholder value and return on investment in the traditional accounting sense. We are moving to the “triple bottom line” of profit, people and planet. Here at VolunteerMatch, we place just as high an emphasis on our social value impact as our financial performance.

Although measuring social contributions and sustainability is still very much evolving, every measure we take is vital. One factor which is easy for your organization to incorporate is a paid time off for volunteering policy (VTO) as an employee benefit.

On the face of it, it doesn’t make great financial sense. If your employees are out of the office, they aren’t at work meeting deadlines, or otherwise contributing to the company’s profitability and success, right?

The evidence is very much to the contrary.

VTO, as part of a comprehensive strategy toward an organization’s overall commitment to sustainability and community offers a substantiated plethora of benefits to companies – this explains why 60 percent, according to a 2014 CECP report of 261 of the world’s largest companies, offer VTO as a benefit to their employees. Studies by the Society for Human Resource Management put this number decidedly lower, likely because they have a broader base of employers including smaller organizations, but their annual research still indicates the percentage is on the rise and climbing each year.

Let’s explore some of the benefits, both short and long-term, of VTO policies. No one out there would disagree that attracting the most talented employees is more competitive than ever. We see this in California every day. This year marks the first year in which the Millennial Generation becomes the majority of the US workforce, according to the Pew Research Center.

Millennials have an unjustified reputation for being self-absorbed, probably, in part, because of the “selfie” craze. The Millennial generation is perceived by many as leading the charge, which would imply a degree of narcissism. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial Survey provides a clear message to employers that a majority of Millennials do not believe business is invested enough in their commitment to the immediate communities in which they operate, and to society overall. Yet, this is an explicit priority and a decisive factor for Millennials in deciding whether to accept a job offer and remain loyal to a company.

All companies need to attract the best talent, so with the rise of Millennials in the workforce, it will be imperative for companies to make policies such as VTO a priority. Some companies, such as Patagonia and Dow, go the extra mile. They acknowledge their commitment to global sustainability and their values around the world by offering employees an opportunity to volunteer internationally at nonprofits which support their values.

Employees are every organization’s biggest investment. If you can’t attract the best talent, your company will suffer by losing the sharpest, most innovative and productive employees, and this will cost in both the short term and long term. CFOs know that less turnover certainly leads directly to cost efficiency. Less time and money on recruiting and training allows for greater focus on your mission. And, when employees are out providing valuable service to our communities, they are our partners in engaging the triple bottom line.

While I can’t provide financial metrics related specifically to VTO policies, I can share some powerful research on the performance implications of a company culture of sustainability and the social values/objectives of employees, community and customers.

Robert Eccles, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School, published a report in 2012 on an 18-year study of 90 organizations with a high level of emphasis on employees, customers, community and the environment, against an equal number of organizations in a control group that do not. According the research, these highly engaged organizations significantly outperformed the others, both in stock market and accounting performance. They had sustained greater governance and loyalty. This is a compelling report and clarifies, among other research out there, that doing good not only does not sacrifice shareholder value, but actually enhances it.

While we have evidence that doing good enhances profitability, what about the other measures of success? The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s report “How Virtue Creates Value for Business and Society” concludes that CFOs, investors and market analysts are early in the process of adopting metrics and communicating them to their stakeholders and the market.

Some view these policies as compliance and risk management. They’re finding, currently, that tracking the financial impact of programs not inherently financial, but still very significant in measuring impact, can be difficult. One example is the increase in revenue through loyalty and goodwill. We are all hungry to continue to work on metrics which support what we experience as being true and critically important to our organizations – investing in the values of our employees and our communities leads to better, more productive and engaged employees and customer loyalty to an organization’s brand.

To answer the question “Should your company include VTO as an employee benefit?”, the answer is absolutely!  In my role as a CFO, I strongly encourage you and everyone out there to adopt VTO policies as part of your efforts to attract and retain the best employees, improve your brand loyalty, and as a result of both – promote growth and increased revenue as well as the other measurements of your success.

Meet Darcy Brown-Martin and Ebony Frelix, 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit Speakers

In December 2015, CSR professionals, employee engagement enthusiasts, VolunteerMatch clients, and national nonprofits will come together at the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit (#VMSummit15). In this series of blog posts, I’ll introduce you to the numerous experts who will make an appearance as Summit speakers.


Darcy Brown-Martin
National Director of Corporate Relations, Playworks


Ebony Frelix
Vice President of Programs, Salesforce Foundation








What is your session about?

CSR leaders and nonprofit staff alike are wrestling with the movement in corporate philanthropy to “go beyond the check.” CSR staff grapple with the need to create authentic impact through volunteerism without disrupting workplace priorities, while nonprofits that don’t rely directly on volunteers to fulfill their mission battle for funding in a corporate arena leaning hard on employee engagement. Learn how Salesforce and Playworks arrived at a replicable solution to this set of dilemmas, built on mission alignment on both sides.

Why should attendees care about this topic?

Darcy: Whether you’re on the for-profit or nonprofit side of the CSR equation, finding practical ways to repeatedly engage volunteers is key in building successful corporate partnerships in the current market. After this session, participants will be able to look at their organizational assets with fresh eyes. Respectively, they will be able to plan fiscally to support a robust corporate volunteer program or deploy existing program assets to secure corporate funding by helping corporations realize community impact through one‐off volunteer-group engagements.

Ebony: Gone are the days when corporate philanthropy was simply writing a check to a charity of choice at the end of the year. Today’s employees–and millennials in particular–expect a robust and integrated corporate citizenship program. Yet at the same time, CSR practitioners compete for attention, time and effort of employees. Hear about both top-down and bottom-up strategies that can drive impactful employee engagement.

What do you love about your work?

Darcy: Stewarding corporate partnerships for a national nonprofit allows me to engage in mission-driven work while continuously learning about the methods and cultures of significant for-profit companies. I love that blend.

Ebony: I love that every day when I go to work, I’m helping make a difference. Sometimes it’s in a big way, like our partnership with the San Francisco Middle Schools and the Mayor’s Office which, through $8+ million in grants and 5,000+ hours of Salesforce employee volunteering, is helping prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow. Or in small ways, like mentoring last year our amazing YearUp intern–who now, I’m proud to say–is a full time employee of the Salesforce Foundation.

To learn more about Darcy and Ebony, check out their biographies on our Summit speakers’ page. And if you haven’t yet, register today for the 2015 VolunteerMatch Summit!

How to Turn 9/11 into a Day of Service at Your Company

Turn 9/11 Day into a Day of Service at Your CompanyMore than any other day of the year, 9/11 is a day for giving back.

In fact, 9/11 is the largest day of charitable engagement in the United States. In 2014, over 40 million people volunteered as part of 9/11 Day.

9/11 Day is an official Day of Service recognized under federal law. (The only other recognized Day of Service is MLK Day). According to its founders, “The goal of 9/11 Day is to keep alive the spirit of unity and compassion that arose in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, providing a positive, helpful way for people to annually remember and pay tribute to the 9/11 victims, and honor those that rose in service in response to the attacks.”

It’s also a great time to bring your employees together for a cause.

Start Planning Now                                                                             

If you haven’t started planning your company’s 9/11 Day activities, start now. First, decide how you want your employees to get involved. You can organize a company-wide volunteer event, challenge your employees to independently do one good deed, or something in between.

Remember: Just because it’s called 9/11 Day doesn’t mean your involvement has to happen on that exact day. You can celebrate a week of service, in which you create friendly competition around which department can log the most volunteer hours. You can also consider a volunteer opportunity on the weekend, to which employees can bring their families and instill a value of service in their children.

Find Your Opportunity

Volunteer on 9-11 DayWhether you’re planning a company-wide event or encouraging individual volunteerism, you need to find your way to get involved. Start by reaching out to your established nonprofit partners to see what needs they have.

You can also check out Taproot, who is facilitating a skills service day. Search skills-based volunteer projects. Or, find opportunities directly on 9/11 Day’s website. Date-specific opportunities from VolutneerMatch.org will populate to this site.

Create a Fulfilling Experience

9/11 is a sober day of remembrance, and it may feel uncomfortable encouraging your employees to have fun. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create an enjoyable, fulfilling experience for your employees. Some ways to do this: Instill a sense of unity and company pride by providing t-shirts. Offer free snacks or even a meal. Organize transportation to and from a volunteer event. Incentivize individual volunteering with prizes or other perks.

Share Your Story

Participating in a Day of Service is going to be a different experience for everyone. Ask your employees to share their individual experiences for the company newsletter or blog. Recognize employees who went above and beyond to give back. Follow up after the event to show employees the impact they had. These types of communications will inspire employees to participate in your next volunteer activity.

How will your company participate in 9/11 Day? Let us know by commenting below, or tweet to us @VM_Solutions.