We Can’t All Be Google – But with a Great Employee Volunteer Program, We Can Come Close

24. October 2011 In the News 0
Google Serve 2011 volunteers in NYC
Google Serve 2011 volunteers in NYC

Don’t get me wrong – I think Tony Schwartz was very thorough in his Sept. 19th article in Harvard Business Review, “The Twelve Attributes of a Truly Great Place to Work.” However, I also think that his quick mention of corporate social responsibility requires more explanation and exploration.

How to Fully Engage Employees

In the article Schwartz cites a well-known correlation between employee productivity and how invested they are in their jobs and committed to their companies. Unfortunately, only 20% of employees report being fully engaged in this way.

So Schwartz asks and answers the inevitable question: How do we get these employees more engaged? What aspects of a company make it a great employer?

There are four basic categories of employee needs, Schwartz explains: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. In order to fully engage employees, employers must invest in fulfilling each of these. Then Schwartz provides a comprehensive list of ways companies can address these four areas, from basic salary standards to healthy food to professional development opportunities.

Schwartz vehemently points out that he doesn’t believe any company currently in existence meets all of these needs. “The one that comes closest,” he says, “is Google.”

Coming in last on Schwartz’s list is “Stand for something beyond simply increasing profits.”

And Where is CSR?

Coming in at #12, the last item on Schwartz’s list, is “Stand for something beyond simply increasing profits.” Schwartz provides little additional explanation for what this means, indicating that companies should somehow add value to the world and enable their employees to find meaning in their work.

This concept of infusing corporate culture with “meaning” has become an increasingly important piece of the overall employee engagement pie, which is why I feel it got short-changed in Schwartz’s article. From our work with our corporate clients here at VolunteerMatch, we know that adding value to the world as a company is a multi-faceted issue, tackled in different ways by different businesses. I think it needs to be further explored in the context of meeting employee needs beyond Schwartz’s item #12.

Reports like Cone’s Cause Evolution Study show that employees are becoming increasingly invested in their company’s support of social and environmental issues. More than 75% of corporate employees want to be able to impact causes by volunteering through their company.

And when they’re able to get involved in volunteering efforts with their employers, these employees are 36% more likely to feel a strong sense of loyalty to their companies.

At VolunteerMatch, our goal is to help companies develop the best program for engaging employees in these “do-good” types of initiatives, including partnering with brands for cause marketing campaigns, hosting internal employee volunteering recruitment and tracking websites, providing technology for organizing special company volunteer events, and more. And if you’re just not sure what the best option for your business is, we also recently launched a Consulting Service.

When your company has a dynamic cause-focused program with a strong employee volunteering element, you can see immediate engagement results like this:

Engaged employees

Having a purpose that’s bigger than your profit is indeed one part of a larger employee engagement picture, and employee volunteering is, in my opinion, a key element of that purpose. Perhaps if more companies recognize this, we’ll be seeing CSR and employee volunteering higher up on the next list.

What do you think are the most important factors for engaging employees and making your company a great place to work?

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