February 18, 2016

Giving Back to Engage Employees

employees sitting on chairs waiting

Quick, name one huge benefit of giving back. Employee engagement. Engaged employees produce more, feel more positive about their work, learn, gain skills, and meet potential customers. If you struggle finding and keeping younger employees, add more community engagement to your work. Studies show that millennials, when choosing between two similar jobs, choose jobs with more giving back. How might you structure your giving back to create meaningful employee engagement? To start, consider these options:

Increase Their Value. Michael Saunders and Company, a licensed real estate broker in Sarasota, Florida, generously offers the community twice-yearly grant opportunities. Each application requires the signature of one of the broker’s agents. UPS, likewise, requires employees to sponsor all requests for support. Another firm gives employee-of-the-month winners the opportunity to give a $500 donation to the nonprofit of their choice. Here you engage employee passions and grow your employees’ value in the community. This option connects giving back with specific employees.

We’re in this Together. Instead, you might invite your employees to select a nonprofit as a team. With this choice, employees often collect items to support the cause, such as school supplies. You provide a cash gift. You support teamwork, new relationships, and connection to a larger purpose. To create greater returns, identify a short list of nonprofits that match your goals and provide a good, logical fit with your work. Ask employees to pick from it. For instance, an orthodontist asks employees to select from a list of schools, after-school programs, and the children’s hospital-all places where they find customers. The orthodontist engages employees, and the gifts automatically support existing customers and re-enforce marketing efforts.

Have a Hand in It. To engage employees, how about supporting groups that offer employees hands-on work? You might, for instance, join a school during their Giving Back Day to help students complete a task. Or, you might gather at your local food bank to transform donations, such as 1,000 pound containers of tomatoes, into boxes for food pantries and families. The challenge, of course, rests in identifying meaningful work–not all activities create results. You will also run into privacy and security issues, off-hours, and challenges finding tasks that logically connect with your expertise. The business benefit of this option includes practicing team work, learning new tasks, deepening relations with colleagues, and the refreshment gained by stepping out of routines.

Employee engagement works. To engage your employees, intentionally design how you will give back to fit your needs, incorporate your goals, and compliment your business. Engaging employees in giving back is a hot trend for a good reason. Doing it well improves your bottom line.


Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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