SPARKing Employee Engagement through Social Impact Initiatives
In previous blogs, we’ve talked about how Millennials are soon becoming a large majority of the world’s workforce and their employment values are closely tethered to societal issues. In fact, Deloitte reported that 87% of Millennials believe that businesses should be measured by more than just financial performance, and a Forbes study noted that 58% of employees would take a 15% pay cut to work for a company with values closer to their own.
Rapid growth of technology and trade has made traditional sources of competitive advantage, such as financial capital, technology, and location, more accessible. Companies now need to integrate “softer” less tangible sources of competitive advantage that can differentiate them.
One way that companies can create a competitive advantage is by having a team of employees that are deeply committed to the company’s vision and core values. Rather than show up and maintain the status quo, employees who believe that they can make an external impact in communities and a difference inside their company, such as through intrapreneur programs, provide critical value and enthused employee engagement.
Setting the stage for employees to provide innovation and impact is a critical part of planning a social impact program and has many benefits for a company. In fact, some reports have demonstrated that companies with the highest social engagement have the highest operating margin and that 75+% of employees want to be part of company’s giving and volunteering programs. Moreover, a study by Northwestern University reported that on average, employees who work for organizations that offer corporate citizenship are significantly more engaged than employees who work for organizations that don’t offer corporate citizenship activities.
Fusing employee engagement with impact also has other important benefits:
- Internal marketing: For larger companies that may have negative press, social impact initiatives can help improve both the reputation of the company and the emotional attachment to its mission and core values by the employees working there. A paycheck may keep a person on the job physically, but it alone will not keep a person on the job emotionally.
- Employee skill enhancement: Company-led social impact initiatives can expand your employees’ work related skillsets. For example, Keurig Green Mountain Coffee Roasters sends 20% of its full-time employees to impact initiatives on coffee farms in order to educate them about sourcing issues.
- Connecting workers globally: Remote workers feel more connected to their company if involved in social impact initiatives, feeling that they are collaborating in a collective effort to make impact in the world with their co-workers, regardless of their job title or location.
Social impact initiatives are now essential to building quality employee engagement. When you create a working environment that fosters employee connection to impact initiatives, a company can differentiate as well as attract and retain a loyal, innovative team.
Maggie & Hector