10 Steps to Kickstart Employee Engagement Through Workplace Giving - Part 3

A 10 Step Approach to Increase Employee Engagement and Get Better Returns From Employee Giving and Volunteering Programs
May 4, 2011 1:15 PM ET

Do you hear that buzz? It’s the wow factor of workplace giving.  No longer a “nice to have” employee program, workplace giving matters now more than ever.  As a society, people care more about giving back and we have greater expectations that the companies we work for will help us support causes that matter to us.  Companies recognize the need to do more on the employee giving and volunteering front, both to support their corporate citizenship goals and to harness the positive employee engagement impacts that meaningful workplace giving programs deliver.

Employee giving and volunteering are now essential elements of companies’ employee engagement toolkits, forming a key part of any strategic Human Capital Management and/or CSR plan.  At the same time, many large companies are looking for ways to take their workplace programs to the next level – that is, how to increase their social and business impacts.  And many small and mid-size companies are looking for easy-to-implement and cost-effective ways to deliver workplace giving.

So how can you learn about and act on the best practices in workplace giving? Read on. In this article, we’ll focus on Part 3 of the 10 Steps to the New Workplace Giving: an approach to realize better returns from your employee giving and volunteering programs.  (See part 1 here and part 2 here)

7.    Charitable Gift Card Capability: Rewards And Recognition That Keeps on Giving

Consider the impact that you could realize if you bring a charitable component (one that aligns with your corporate CSR/CI strategy and goals of course!) into your existing employee and customer reward and recognition programs.  Yup, it’s big.

Reward and motivate employees (or other stakeholders) by giving them a donation gift card that allows them to donate to the cause, or causes, of their choice.  These brandable gift cards can also be purchased to give to those outside your organization as a promotional or seasonal item, or by employees for personal use.   Drive recipients (who may not just be employees) to a branded redemption site where they see matching offers from the company, connect your brand with your CI/CSR strategy, etc. Pretty integrated corporate and employee giving that extends your brand.  Neat and impactful to boot!

8.    Make It Super-Easy (And Fun!) To Implement And Use

However snazzy, an employee giving program or solution/tool is only effective if people are using it.  Ensure the entire experience is convenient for both employees and administrators.  It needs to be extremely easy to use, highly visual, and provide more to employees than just a “digitized” pledge form that they set once a year and forget.

The challenge that many companies have told us about is that current workplace giving programs and the associated technology is too complex and cumbersome: both for employees as end users and for managers who administer them.  We like to use the analogy between a jet and a car.  Both will get you where you need to go but although most people can drive a car, not very many can operate a jet.  So sometimes you don’t need a jet, you need a cool car!

We are hearing that companies have an increased desire for workplace giving programs that are super-easy to set up and to use.   And that is what web-based technology like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions can help provide.  (And it’s super affordable – more on that in Step #10).

And, to the ends of increasing participation and impact on employee engagement, don’t forget to focus on the HEART of workplace giving to ignite people’s passions for causes.   We don’t mean to sound too uber-groovy or peacenik but giving is personal and if you can tap into the zeal that employees have for causes that matter to them (with a program/solution delivered under your company brand), you can translate that zeal into goodwill for your company.   The right technology can help you more easily administer your employee giving programs more cost effectively.  And this can free up resources like time, budget and energy to focus on programs and promotions so that you can really bring the HEART back into workplace giving.

9.    Make Employee Giving Part Of Your Culture

Clearly, if the goals are employee engagement, building a company culture of giving and maximizing the social impact that the company makes, then having employees actively participate is a must-do.  You don’t need to be an HCM consultant to know that if we want something to stick and to change employee behavior for everything from community relations to customer service, we know it needs to be meaningfully woven into the company’s culture and identity.
One of the ways to enable this is to make workplace giving a year round activity, part of the employee experience.  Employee engagement is a year-round challenge.   And employees are passionate about causes that matter to them all year long.  Creating a culture of giving requires workplace giving programs that engage people year-round.

Another key way to make giving part of the everyday employee experience is to bring a web-based, empowered, personalized, experience to your programs. Consider this: outside of work (and maybe even sometimes at work ;) – people are online: they’re using Facebook, booking travel online, buying custom running shoes from Nike.com; making recommendations on Zappos and Yelp and, all in all, enjoying personalized, interactive experiences online…on their computers and increasingly, and especially for Millennials, on their mobile phones.  Now they come to work and they are given a once-a-year option to participate in a workplace giving campaign via a digital pledge form (set and forget) or perhaps a paper form.  Good for the charity perhaps, but is that engagement?  And on the volunteerism front, there are sadly, often, huge hoops to jump through and a ton of paperwork to tackle to get a grant to their chosen charity? How exciting is that? 

Bringing the same experience to online workplace giving: personal accounts, empowered choices about where, how and how much to give, easy and interactive communication and an online interface that is current - replicating the experience most users have in all other of their online interactions is a great way to increase attention and takeup for employee giving and volunteering.  And it can help your company create a culture of giving and move the needle on employee engagement all year long.

10.    Don’t Pay a Fortune For It

Here’s the thing.  Back to our jet and cool car analogy: cars are wayyy more affordable than jets.   Technology can be your friend when it comes to automating manual processes and reducing costs.  And web based approaches like Software as a Service mean that you don’t need to pay a fortune for workplace giving software.  Whether you’re a large company, mid-cap or growing, spend the money instead on programs, matching, behavioral incentives, promotion, etc.  They will ultimately impact the metrics that matter.
Hopefully these 10 Steps have are both thought and action provoking as you consider how to best plan and deliver employee giving and volunteering programs that deliver results.   Actively involving your employees in giving back, aligning your corporate and employee giving programs under your brand and building a culture of giving will help you realize better social and business impacts from workplace giving.  Better returns and more good in the world – you’ll be a hero!

Here’s to igniting the light in your employees in 2011!

Introducing Spark! by Benevity

Spark! is an “out of the box” software solution that allows companies to easily and cost-effectively offer automated, outsourced, and engaging employee giving and volunteering.  Spark! helps companies save time and money, increase employee participation rates and deliver more strategic workplace giving programs that yield greater social and business returns.  Find out more at www.benevity.org/spark.

About Benevity

Benevity is a software company that helps businesses realize a better return on their increasing investments in social good programs, including cause marketing, community investment, employee giving & volunteering programs.

Benevity has developed North America’s first embeddable micro-donation platform, enabling socially responsible businesses to engage their customers, employees and corporate partners in optional charitable giving in new ways on their terms. Benevity lets companies integrate user-directed, tax receiptable donations and corporate matching programs into their existing transaction environments, using their own brands and systems. The Benevity platform helps companies build authentic and impactful cause marketing, workplace giving and other social responsibility initiatives that increase engagement, brand differentiation and return on social and community investment.

The Benevity platform also powers Benevity’s web-based products, such as Spark! workplace giving and The Givatron, the first charity-of-choice giving application for Android-based mobile devices. To find out more, visit us at www.benevity.org and view our short video at www.benevity.org/goodness3.0.