Now that Halloween is over, it’s official: the holiday season has begun, complete with the on-set of colorful lights, the whimsy of holiday music and the guilty pleasure of gingerbread latte. Beyond the music, treats and holiday celebrations, it’s the overwhelming gratitude and giving that always catches my attention.
My early holiday gift last year was the October 8, 2012 issue Forbes Making It Big – Giving It Big: The Titans of Philanthropy. The insights from the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet and Steve Case will give you pause – and the motivation to re-think how you and your company give back to the community and the role of philanthropic giving in employee engagement.
There are multiple aspects of employee acquisition and engagement that best-in-class companies use to acquire and retain the best and brightest: competitive pay, telecommuting, excellent health benefits, and on-site amenities such as child-care, catered lunches, banking, dry cleaning, and gyms, to name a few. An often overlooked aspect of the employee proposition (why the best come to you and why they stay) involves what and how your company gives back to the community and those in need.
Over the years, I’ve bench-marked, interviewed and met with leaders across industries and here are three common themes that successfully link company giving programs to increased levels of employee engagement.
- Ask, Listen and Learn: Your employees want to give back to the community – and they want their company to do the same. In fact, 81% of employees want their company to offer matching support programs for non-profit charitable organizations, whether locally or on a larger scale (source: 2011 Cone Cause Evolution Study, and The 2010 Report: “Workplace Giving Works: Make It Work For You”).
- Connect Your People With Their Passion: Many companies offer one or very limited options for volunteering their time, financial resources and receiving matching contributions. The result is low participation in volunteer activities and, in many cases, dissatisfaction with their employers. Companies that truly invite their employees to align their time and financial resources to causes that have personal meaning have higher participation rates in fund-raising and volunteer activities than those that don’t. Matching contributions to causes that employees choose themselves (that fall within company guidelines and approval processes) are the most meaningful and contribute to higher levels of satisfaction and engagement. For more information, visit Volunteer Match.
- Use Giving Back as Opportunities to Re-Connect and Re-Energize Your Teams: Whether it’s working together with Habitat For Humanity, walking or running in The Race for the Cure, volunteering to help individuals and families coping with terminal illness through The Hospice Foundation or by partnering with the The Clinton Foundation to bring health services to communities decimated by HIV/ADS around the world, the opportunities – the need – to help and give back to our communities are endless.
During this season of giving and gratitude, it’s easy to overlook what’s right in front of us: that Americans, even in the most challenging of times, are also the most giving people in the world.
Oprah Winfrey once said: “When you go to Nelson Mandela’s house, what do you take? You can’t take a candle.” Giving is personal. The logical next step is to make it personal to you – and the company you call home.
Until next time: connect, collaborate and create!