Six Ways to Engage your Employees

employee volunteerism in the workplace

The ‘triple bottom line’ concept introduced in 2007 tells us to focus not just on profits but on people and the planet as well. Companies are increasingly adopting this notion as part of being a good corporate citizen. For the people piece of this equation, research shows that engaged employees are 51% more productive and 87% less likely to leave the organization, contributing real dollars to the bottom line in more work accomplished and reduced turnover hence decreased staffing costs. One way today’s employees increasingly want to be engaged is by giving back to the community.

This article outlines six ways to engage your employees, all while giving back to help your community. Please note that each of these methods can be scaled up or down, depending on the size of your workforce.

(1) Volunteering together

Whether a short project of a couple hours, a full day, or even a week-long series, volunteering together enables workers to enhance their teamwork and bring new enthusiasm back into the office.

Case in point: Austin’s Salesforce team recently celebrated Global Volunteer Week by sorting produce at the Central Texas Food Bank which went into almost 5,000 meals to feed those in need of donated food.

The Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas, which helps entrepreneurs and their teams build corporate cultures and employee engagement for success, sponsors two days of service each year. Last spring they mobilized 24 of their companies with over 575 team members working for 12 nonprofits over two weeks in May to support the homeless in Austin.

There are countless other opportunities for team projects such as preparing and serving lunch or breakfast to the homeless, walking as a team in a charity event, beautifying a park, or stuffing and delivering backpacks to low income students.

(2) Paid time off (PTO) for Volunteering

Employees these days love to have time to go volunteer at a nonprofit of their choice. Even better if the time they spend is paid time off from their employer.

Employees have been volunteering for years, teaching classes for Junior Achievement, making meals at the Ronald McDonald House for resident families, or bell-ringing for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign. There are 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. so there is no end of opportunities for volunteering.

Says one employee of Principal Financial Group (PFG) based in Des Moines, Iowa, “I LOVE working here. One thing I really appreciate about PFG is that it provides us with volunteering time off so we can help in our communities.”

(3) Volunteering at the Office

Arranging for activities that can be done at the office provides an easy way for workers to volunteer, especially those for whom it is difficult to leave during the workday. For example, National Insurance in Columbus, Ohio, named a Best Places to Give Back in Fortune magazine, established a Red Cross blood donor center in the building so that associates could take time off to go give blood. Build-A-Sign, a sign maker in Austin, Texas, developed the CANville competition. Local companies were invited to compete by creating an Austin landmark entirely of cans of food. Winners were chosen, giving the participating companies pride in their teamwork, and the cans used in the sculptures donated to the local food bank.

(4) Employee fundraising

Employees love teaming up for a good cause and organizing fundraisers at work let their creativity shine. From car washes to bake sales to go-fund-me campaigns, employees working together toward something meaningful enhances their teamwork and their job loyalty.

Trulucks, an iconic Texas restaurant, has supported their staff for years to band together for the ‘Bad Pants Open’ golf tournament, benefitting autism. Two of the executives who have family members on the autism spectrum determined that having fun together as a team, raising money and raising spirits was a great way to not only support this cause but also enhance their teamwork.

Six Ways to Engage your Employees

(5) Disaster relief

When disaster strikes, offering the opportunity to help the victims provides a great service for many employees. Novo Nordisk, a pharmaceuticals company from New Jersey, makes it their priority to respond to disasters such as the tornado clean up in Alabama, hurricane relief in New Orleans and blood donations after the Pulse Nightclub terrorist attack in Orlando.

(6) Nonprofit learning

Employees appreciate being given the opportunity to learn about community needs and the various nonprofit organizations which support these causes.  This education can take many forms. South Texas Money Management, a Texas-based wealth management firm, each quarter invites a nonprofit to come to their office for lunch, tell their story, and receive a small donation while their staff learns more about the community need being addressed by their guest. Or it can be more elaborate such as the United Way for Greater Austin’s scavenger hunt to learn about the needs of the community. Mason Ayers, CEO of iconic Kerbey Lane Cafés, says “… it … brought the members of our executive team closer together as we discovered things about the city of Austin we never knew before. It was a great team-building experience …”. 

Hopefully, one of more of these ideas will work to engage your own employees, fueling their interest in the community, feeling good about themselves and being proud of the business where they work.

Debbie JohnsonDebbie Johnson is a Principal with Successful Giving which helps businesses figure out their highest and best philanthropy to enable them to give back with meaning and effectively engage their employees. She was formerly an executive with AT&T/Lucent Technologies.     


What to Read Next: