SB’15 Recap: The Employee Engagement and Volunteerism Perspective

14272922640_2e723abdc8_mCorporate social responsibility (CSR) requires a holistic strategy. Sustainability is just one piece of that strategy.

Sustainable Brands gets this. While it’s billed as a sustainability conference, it actually focuses on the whole picture: How all facets of CSR work together to improve both business practices and the communities in which companies operate.

And out of all the facets CSR, as a VolunteerMatch employee, I’m obviously most interested in employee volunteerism. It’s a win-win: It helps the communities in which employees serve, but it also helps companies in many ways – one of which is by increasing employee engagement.

This year, I was pleased to see an entire track at Sustainable Brands dedicated to employee engagement – much more than in past years. It’s great to see this benefit of employee volunteer programs brought more and more to light and take its rightful place next to other components of CSR strategy. Within the sessions in this track, some of the speakers touched on their employee volunteering initiatives, but as a whole the focus was more on engaging employees through CSR initiatives in general.

One idea that resonated with me is that we need redefine what “engagement” actually means to us. For a new program, identifying that your employees are engaged might mean a goal of 60% of employees participating in at least one project throughout the year. But once you’ve reached those goals, you need to redefine what engagement looks like to keep your programs growing and evolving.

Furthermore, something that I heard repeatedly in plenaries and breakout sessions alike was the concept of placing purpose at the center of your strategy. I couldn’t agree more! When your business has purpose and community in the center of strategy, it can’t help but become a part of employees’ day-to-day experiences.

I love attending Sustainable Brands, because it’s a place for CSR professionals, (even those who are really more focused on employee volunteering such as myself) to meet like-minded peers and hear about innovative ways that companies are placing purpose at the center of their business.

The VolunteerMatch Summit, happening this December in Oakland, CA offers a similar atmosphere for CSR professionals. However, it takes a deeper dive into one particular aspect of a holistic CSR approach: Community involvement and volunteering. Learn more.

Photo Credit: Michael Heiss

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