More Than A T-Shirt And Day Out Of The Office: Companies Begin To Match Volunteer Skills With Societal Needs
By Sarah Ford on April 15, 2014
Employee engagement used to mean a fairly simple transaction at the office: the annual campaign that often followed the CEO’s lead, and perhaps a volunteer day with bright, branded T-shirts and Up With People style cheerleading. But sometime in the last few years, employee engagement at some leading companies moved beyond half-time at a 70s era Orange Bowl.
Last week, I took part in the annual Charities@Work conference in Manhattan, and moderated a couple of panels. In one, we explored how companies are moving towards providing year-round engagement opportunities for their employees, rather than at a specific time during the year – and how employees (particularly those millennials we all read about) preferred a more authentic experience.
The discussion featured Bea Boccalandro, president of VeraWorks, a consulting firm that helps companies design, execute and measure their community involvement, and Rebecca Wang, who is responsible for employee engagement in the community for Hewlett Packard’s 300,000 employees around the globe. We covered what it means to have an “engaged” workforce and Wang shared some of HP’s employee programs and how they encourage year-round participation, with support from the company. It was a good discussion that – in my view – revealed an ongoing evolution in how companies are more focused on what employees want, especially when it comes to involvement in causes.
I followed up with Boccalandro, who teaches corporate community involvement for Georgetown University and for the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, on a couple of the big themes.