Many employees are re-evaluating what they want and expect from their employers. This is a pivotal moment for companies to recalibrate program offerings and better support employees in applying their unique talents to purposeful projects in the communities where they live, work and raise their families.
With a backdrop of unprecedented societal challenges including the pandemic, mass shootings, racial injustices, the war in Ukraine, an escalating climate crisis and more in the past year, many employees are re-evaluating what they want and expect from their employers. And executive leaders are taking note.
Employees who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged in their work cost the world $7.8 trillion in lost productivity, according to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report. That's equal to 11 percent of global GDP.
It is easy to understand why senior leaders are paying attention to the enormous cost of disengaged employees, who are often unmotivated to and disinterested in improving the company’s bottom line. But what’s largely missing from the current conversation is the main cause of this detachment: a desire for a greater sense of purpose and belonging.
Due to the Great Resignation, many companies are reinvigorating their employee value propositions — such as creating greater flexibility, offering employee assistance programs and improving employee wellbeing. But it seems that has not been enough to stop the ongoing employee revolution — with PwC finding one in five workers were planning to quit in 2022. Though pay is unsurprisingly the main factor in why people report wanting to change jobs, the study found job fulfillment and the ability to be one’s true self at work ranked second and third among employees considering a job change.
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If corporate leaders fail to create clarity of purpose and foster a sense of belonging, their ability to engage and retain talent will continue to be compromised.
What should companies and executives be doing about it?
Get back to the basics of employee engagement. Focus on worker safety, role clarity and effective communication — ensuring employees have the resources they need to perform their duties. Support employees’ wellbeing and connection with internal and external communities to mitigate burnout and drive their sense of individual and collective purpose.
One way to promote purpose and connection is by offering employees high-quality employee volunteer programs. To generate that sense of value, volunteering opportunities should consistently evolve in ways that effectively serve community needs, as well as align with employee skills and interests. Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose® (CECP)’s Giving in Numbers™: 2022 Edition report found in 2021, the average percentage of employees who volunteered at least one hour of their time was 17 percent across all participating companies. Volunteer participation has not yet recovered to the pre-pandemic average of 29 percent in 2019. Yet, the median number of hours employees volunteered when skills-based programs were offered was significantly higher than for companies where skills-based volunteer programs were not offered. This suggests that while a smaller number of employees are engaging in skills-based volunteer programs, they do so with deeper levels of commitment to produce a higher median of hours — thus, leading to potentially greater impact on nonprofits, partners and the community through sustained service.
5 key trends in employee engagement
Here’s how companies continue to adapt to changes in employee volunteering:
More centered on — and responsive to — community needs
Less prescriptive, more flexible
More focused on connecting employees with their purpose, passions
Greater emphasis on impact and engagement over mere “participation”
Expanding view of employee engagement — not just donations and traditional volunteering
Employee wellbeing continues to be a key priority
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) continue to emerge, aligning with and informing CSR initiatives. For example, our most recent Giving in Numbers report found that the percentage of corporate social investments designated to social justice and racial equity increased by 90 percent between 2020 and 2021, which may reflect the influence of ERGs in those areas.
Technology enables communication; promotes connection and recognition; and supports virtual engagement and grassroots, employee-led campaigns. Our Giving in Numbers report revealed over 40 percent of companies have Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as a strategic focus area, as it continues to be the number-one priority area of strategic programs.
Comcast is a great example of a company thoroughly embracing the importance of community to its culture. For example, its Team UP initiative is a 365-days-a-year effort that brings Comcast teams together and provides opportunities for everyone to get more involved in their local communities. Since 2001, more than one million Comcast employees, family members and friends across 23 countries have completed over seven million hours of service at 12,000 project sites through Comcast Cares — one of the largest corporate commitments to volunteerism and service in America.
“When I think about what makes Comcast a special place, I am perhaps most proud of how we always come together to support our communities. An important part of that effort, and one that brings me so much inspiration, is volunteerism,” says Dalila Wilson-Scott, EVP and Chief Diversity Officer at Comcast Corporation and President of the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation.
This is a pivotal moment with great potential for companies to re-calibrate program offerings and better support employees in applying their unique talents to purposeful projects in the communities where they live, work and raise their families. Check out CECP’s Giving in Numbers: 2022 Edition and Value Volunteering report for additional trend insights and tools.