Four Reasons Why Engaging Employees in Corporate Social Impact is Good for Business

Employees are the most important asset of any company. Not only are they the gears that generate revenue, but they can act as valuable channels for public relations and marketing, as they are the most genuine representatives of your brand. Richard Branson (Founder of Virgin Group) was once quoted as saying: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” Research has shown that properly engaging employees has a positive effect on many business objectives (e.g. productivity, customer relations, brand enhancement, and human resources, to name a few), which in turn positively impact profitability and growth [1]. So, how can you engage your workforce to capitalize on these influences? Foster a sense of fulfilment and positive impact in the workplace. Below, we discuss the four pillars of the business case for engaging employees in social impact initiatives:

  1. Impactful Work Engages Employees: A Net Impact study (Talent Report: What Workers Want in 2012) showed that workers who have the opportunity to make positive social or environmental impacts on the job are more satisfied by a factor of 2:1 [2]. Further, studies have shown that corporate social responsibility has been highlighted as one of the overall most important drivers of employee engagement [3].
  2. Employee Engagement Boosts Profits and Productivity: A Gallup study survey of 23,910 businesses found that companies with higher engagement rates had higher productivity (18%) and profitability (16%) when compared to companies with low engagement rates [4]. In fact, engaged employees are simply worth more (an estimated $3,570 more per employee per year [5]).
  3. Impactful Work Helps Attract and Retain Top Talent: Trends show that the next generation workforce increasingly values getting a sense of fulfillment from their work. Over half (53 percent) of workers feel that “a job where I can make an impact” is a crucial factor to their overall happiness, and 72 percent of students entering the workforce agree [6]. Further, businesses with low engagement rates experience much higher employee turnover rates [4].
  4. Most Employees are Not Properly Engaged: Although the business case for employee engagement is strong, a Gallup survey of 2,341 adults showed that 71 percent are either not engaged, or are actively disengaged, at work [7]. Therefore, for most companies, employee engagement remains an untapped opportunity to improve profits and general business operations.

There is no shortage of data connecting corporate social responsibility, employee engagement, and a multitude of business objectives. The causality is quite logical: workers are more satisfied and engaged when they have an opportunity to perform impactful work, and engaged workers are simply more effective. However, despite this, most workers are not engaged at work. This represents both a significant problem and two-fold (win-win) opportunity for most companies to increase profits and employee satisfaction. Skills-based volunteering programs (such as Hewlett Packard’s use of the MicroMentor platform) can turn the two-fold opportunity into a three-fold opportunity by adding measurably enhanced skills development, alongside being one of the most effective methods of employee engagement [8,9]. With such a strong business case, it can sometimes be easy to forget the fundamental purpose of skills-based volunteering: making a positive impact in the community.

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[8] Driven Professional