Sharing values and engagement opportunities
by Adam Woodhall - Three engagement specialists recently launched a White Paper at an event in the shadow of London’s Tate Modern which highlighted the challenges and opportunities for engaging employees. The intention of the Benefacto, Do Nation and JustGiving event and White Paper was to demonstrate why, and how, organisations can use volunteering, fundraising and sustainability to benefit their organisation.
The challenge identified was highlighted by a recent Gallup finding that less than a third of employees surveyed strongly agree that they “believe in” their company’s values. This reveals a significant values gap between a company’s publicly proclaimed values and the values its staff perceive it to possess. This values gap can lead to disengagement: while customers can be distracted by branding, employees know the reality of a company’s culture by experiencing it on a daily basis.
The report identified that of all the drivers of engagement, the biggest problem concerns ‘Shared Values’: only 13 per cent of employees feel that their employer understands and shares their personal world view, moral stance and values. What this means in real terms is that employee retention, productivity, team cohesion and wellbeing suffer and this is naturally reflected in the bottom line: businesses with engaged people show 6 per cent higher net profit margins.
Volunteering makes you feel good
Benefacto provide professional volunteers with a mechanism to find and book meaningful, one-off, short-term employee volunteering opportunities, and they were represented by Ben Darlington at the event. As they observed in the report; “Volunteering makes people feel good about themselves. It’s satisfying to feel you’re helping people, putting your skills to good use and contributing to the common good. We are inherently social creatures and in a chaotic, confrontational and often lonely world, helping someone around you is a great way to feel good.”
Ben commented at the event that empowering people to do something of their own choice gives them an extraordinary experience in their local community leading to happier people back in the office, who are also more productive.
Building relationships with fundraising
The online fundraising platform JustGiving enables people to raise money, and since 2001, they have raised $4 billion for good causes. In the report they suggest that; “fundraising within the office allows people to meet and to build relationships across different functions, seniorities and, often, offices. It can strengthen the shared identity of the organisation and foster better team working. Fundamentally, it promotes powerful cross-community bonding.”
JustGiving’s Isabel Sanchez was on the event panel and she commented that putting people through volunteering has been demonstrated to be just as effective as formal training, but more cost effective.
Make sustainability personal
Do Nation is an online pledge platform used by organisations to engage their people in making sustainable living mainstream and their founder, Hermione Taylor was the panelist for launch. In the report they recommend that; “by making sustainability personal, people relate to it. Conversations start, attitudes change, and sustainability begins to influence employee decision making. The ripples started by this process can soon turn into waves.”
Hermione also counselled that giving people choice is very important, but giving too much can mean things get lost, so suggested having a manageable number of opportunities for people to get involved in.
The launch event was chaired by Rob Powell of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, who guided the panel discussion and probed the representatives of the three organisations that authored the report. Rob had a few stories of his own, a highlight being how his law firm is working with Inspiring the Future, and they now have over one third of their lawyers in the London office registered to go into schools and inspire students.
The event was nicely summed up by Gareth Williams of Lexis Nexis, who attended the event and enthused: “Being new to the CSR, the opportunity to meet people from the CSR industry was a windfall. This was because it helped me realise how volunteering can make such an impact and I was also able to garner their collective wisdom in social partnering. I’m looking forward to reading the report.”