In my recent blog, I discussed the importance of community and employee engagement and provided a four-pronged approach to developing a localized plan. With these cornerstones in place, it’s time to execute, and to do that successfully, businesses need to ensure a high level of employee involvement.
To maximize involvement, community and employee engagement programs should be incorporated into multiple levels of the organization:
- Company volunteer programs. Every company should have a volunteer program and, more importantly, should align that program with employee engagement and community involvement. Amid pressing responsibilities, it can be challenging to get employees involved with these programs, so creativity is the name of the game. For example, not everyone can leave the office for a half or full day (as might be required for a Habitat for Humanity build site), so try bringing the volunteer opportunity inside the office. For call centers, we’ve offered one-hour shifts for staff to package meals for a food bank. We also had staff volunteer to stuff folders or create kits for non-profit organizations. By hosting a variety of activities, you can interest and involve more people.
- Enhanced business unit collaboration. We all know that by working together, we can get more accomplished in a shorter amount of time. Utilize existing relationships to accomplish a project or achieve a goal, and enhance those connections by working together on something that’s not directly project-related. Doing so will encourage people to grow as a team and return to the project with more knowledge about each other – what makes people respond the way they do, what excites them or maybe even what their pet peeves are. Share these volunteer activities across sites by doing the same activities around the same time or connecting virtually. We’ve done this by conducting walks throughout the country for the American Heart Association or by holding events at the same time in different locations, sometimes even using technology to connect virtually.
- Client partnerships. The client is the guidepost in business. But while it’s crucial to help clients reach desired goals, that doesn’t mean we can’t collaborate inside and outside the office and have fun in the process. Most clients find the same joy and reward in volunteering as employees do, so why not build a relationship and make a difference at the same time? Often, a business’s proven dedication to corporate responsibility makes them more attractive to potential clients. Spread out the timing of these volunteer events so it doesn’t impact clients and enables the program to run year-round. Locally, we’ve connected with clients to support the Variety Children’s Charity with special bikes for children, as well as the the PGA’s Principal Charity Classic.
- Employee appreciation. Utilize the many additional benefits that volunteer programs provide to enhance the employee experience. Show appreciation for the time spent. Provide a company match or employee recognition award. Involve executives in the programs to show top-level commitment while providing exposure to those who can seem disconnected from the main workforce. We’ve had company leaders collect food for Combat Hunger outside a local radio station, for example. Giving back in this way can boost morale and enhance the company’s reputation, perception and culture, which ultimately affects retention. Make sure to have fun – who doesn’t want to enjoy what they do, feel like they’re making a difference, and work for a company that shares that type of culture?
By using some or all of these techniques, businesses can realize greater connections with and better relationships among their employees, clients and the company as a whole. Higher engagement will ultimately drive better service, and will likely lead to more business with current and prospective clients. For all these reasons, these initiatives should be a focus for your human resource and management teams.
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