Guest Post by Danielle Holly
At the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit in Detroit, we learned from experts in CSR, volunteer engagement, technology and program administration. In this series of blog posts, we’ll share with you the valuable insights offered at each session. Up today: REsiliency Doesn’t Have a Sector.
Danielle Holly, CEO, Common Impact
While we all know that it takes institutional support to make corporate social responsibility and pro bono programs succeed over the long term, it also requires purpose-driven individuals who are willing to roll up their sleeves and create the kind of change employees, businesses and the community want to see. We had a room of these “intrapreneurs” at the VolunteerMatch Client Summit in Detroit earlier this fall.
Here are a few of the themes that came up in our discussion, which corporate change-makers are striving to address every day:
The workforce has transformed: Over the past 20 years, the workforce has completely transformed. The corporate “lifer” is a thing of the past. Employees are switching jobs and sectors every 2-3 years. They’re increasingly remote, and they’re focused on building careers that make a measurable impact on society. This workforce is also 70% disengaged* in their current role, suggesting there are far too many employees who are unhappy, frustrated or actively seeking other opportunities. This environment leaves companies asking the question, “How am I going to recruit, engage, and retain my future leaders?”
Engaging the disengaged? Companies know they need to provide real opportunities to engage the time and talent of their employees beyond the holiday food and fundraising drives. But how? Many of our session participants said that it’s the same employees that engage time and time again in all of the volunteer opportunities they offer. Is it worth it to continue to try to involve employees that aren’t responding, aren’t engaging, and just don’t seem interested? Or should these already-strapped corporate managers focus on enriching the experience of the employees that are coming to the table on their own?
Activating beyond the “corporate” base: Finally, how do you get hourly, part-time, contract, and front-line employees engaged in service when it’s challenging or impossible for them to leave their post? Manufacturing, retail, healthcare and other sectors that rely heavily on these employees are struggling with how to make volunteer programs available to their full workforce – not just their corporate marketing, HR and finance arms.
All of these challenges require slightly different approaches from each of the companies that joined the recent conversation in Detroit, but there is one imperative for progress across the board: These corporate employee engagement initiatives need to be a core part of the company’s business. This integration needs to happen not just in ethos or messaging — though that’s helpful — but in budget, resourcing and measurement.
Once that becomes a reality for more companies, these intrapreneurs will have a tangible foundation on which to build. They can then have the ability to experiment with new programs and new incentives that activate those disengaged employees. They can have the personnel budgets to staff appropriately so that hourly employees can get out in the community and support nonprofit leaders in building better businesses. And most importantly, they can provide evidence of impact to justify the support they need. They’ll know, along with their companies, that their efforts to build a purpose-driven workforce are working.
For resources and more information, view the slides from this session.
*Source: Gallup 2013 Report: State of the American Workplace