How to Boost Employee Engagement and Collaboration Through Community Involvement

A diverse team smiling and joyfully pumping their fists in the air

By Lauren Hopkins, Marketing Coordinator

The holiday season is upon us, and with it brings a time of giving – and giving back. Organizations have the opportunity to help those in need, give back to the community, and show appreciation to employees for their hard work and loyalty to the company over the past year. But let’s not forget – not only should the holiday season be a time for giving back, but it should also serve as a reminder that opportunities for community involvement are not confined to one season, and support is needed all year round.

Fostering Human Connection through Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility

The word ‘philanthropy’ comes from the Ancient Greek term philanthropia, meaning “love of humanity” or “love of mankind.” Philanthropy today is used to describe the desire we have as humans to support and promote the well-being of others. The act of giving has been proven to make humans happier – in a joint survey from the University of British Columbia and Harvard University, it was found that people are happier when they spend their money on others, rather than themselves, regardless of their level of income. Even those who struggle to meet their basic needs are happier giving to others than spending their income on themselves. Giving fosters a sense of human connection – something that many workplaces have been lacking since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The Connection Crisis

The workforce is in the midst of what BetterUp refers to as The Connection Crisis. Despite increased access to others created by technological advances and online social platforms, workers are experiencing increasingly intense feelings of loneliness. It is not the number of connections or the size of our networks that matter – it is the quality of our connections that creates a sense of happiness and belonging in the workplace – and this is currently on a decline.

How can we fix this?

The solution may be found in philanthropy: we can challenge ourselves to create a plan to help employees feel meaningfully connected, both to their organizations and their communities.

The Business Case for Giving Back

Attract and Retain Top Talent

The data is in: employees want to work for companies that actively take part in corporate social responsibility initiatives who are strong advocates for community involvement. According to America’s Charities Snapshot Employee Donor Research, 71% of surveyed employees say that it’s important for them to work for a company that is supportive of giving back and volunteering. These organizations have higher levels of engagement and a strong reputation of social responsibility that attracts diverse, high-talent employees.

Increased Customer Loyalty

A 2021 survey from Harvard Business School found that 77% of consumers are motivated to purchase from purpose-driven organizations that are committed to making the world a better place. Working CSR initiatives into business strategy can help organizations develop their brand to attract customers and build strong and loyal customer relationships.

Stronger Employee Relationships and Collaboration

Connection and belonging are both key factors that drive team performance and success. When employees are part of a team that shares similar values and searches for opportunities to be a part of something bigger, they develop an increased sense of belonging and work more successfully within their teams. Employees view their relationships with each other as more meaningful when they collaborate on projects with greater purpose.

Increased Employee Engagement

Demonstrating social responsibility and community involvement is a key driver of employee engagement. Employees can engage with members of the community on different levels, and feel like they are doing more than just contributing to the bottom line. Giving back to the community on behalf of their organizations makes employees more likely to feel committed to the company.

 How can Organizations Involve Employees and Give Back?

If you sense feelings of disconnect among your team members and want to provide them with opportunities to get involved in the community and develop a stronger sense of purpose, find out what really matters to them. Ask them about their values, the issues that are close to their hearts, the areas where they have observed inefficiencies or gaps in the community. Create a designated group of community involvement ambassadors among your team and assign them projects that support collaborative values within the organization. Engage your employees in developing and executing a CSR program to help them realize their contribution and the importance of giving back. Not only will this help develop a purpose-driven culture within your organization, but your employees will feel far more empowered knowing that they are making a real difference.

Many of us choose to be charitable during the holidays, giving to those in need. Companies often use it as a marketing strategy during this time of year, and consumers increasingly value purchasing from companies that show corporate social responsibility in the form of charity. But must not lose sight of the reason for the season and the fact that we can take action to improve the lives of others in our community all year around.

Our purpose at PowerUp Leadership is to create inspired workplaces that fuel connection, which is why we’ve set a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” of creating 1 million Inspired Leaders by 2033. Through coaching, we help leaders learn how to practice empathy, build trusting relationships, and inspire others to achieve results. With our support, leaders can create an open and safe environment for their team to fully engage in work and present their authentic selves. We believe through Inspired Leadership, we can create better workplaces and a better world.

Happy Holidays!