To assist corporate responsibility practitioners as they help international employees give back to their communities, Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) has produced a report offering practical advice for establishing successful programs in five countries — Brazil, China, India, South Africa, United Kingdom — but the lessons also can be applied to other countries around the world.
To create the Global Employee Engagement Report, SVCF conducted in-depth interviews with 65 corporate practitioners and nonprofit organizations dedicated to promoting employee engagement, as well as completed a review of existing literature on the topic.
Company leaders in Brazil expect their employee engagement programs to add real community value, and may react negatively if they perceive that a program is being rolled out strictly for PR purposes, the report found.
In China, many companies conduct volunteer projects with “social enterprises,” which are registered as for-profit businesses but operate much like nonprofit organizations. These organizations tend to have less bureaucracy than government-organized nonprofit organizations.
In India, the visibility of leaders in employee engagement programs is absolutely vital to success, according to the report. An email, social media post or appearance from a senior leader will signal approval for lower-level employees to engage in the program.
The five countries studied were chosen for two reasons, SVCF says. First, many companies — including many that partner with SVCF to meet their social responsibility objectives — are interested in expanding their employee engagement programs in these countries. Second, these are countries in which cultural or legal landscapes evoke uncertainty, fear or confusion about the customization needed to ensure that a program can succeed locally.
Although the report focuses on five specific countries, the topics it addresses — including gauging the landscape of nonprofit organizations, learning about legal and public policy issues surrounding volunteerism, among others — can provide a useful framework for practitioners seeking to develop employee engagement activities in other countries as well, SVCF claims.
An April report by Johnson & Johnson found that employees can be a powerful force in sustainability. Often, sustainability begins with “green champions” who drive widespread organizational change independently of executive action.
This can even have direct positive financial impacts, as seen by German software company SAP. The firm found that its operating profit improves EUR35 million ($38 million) to EUR45 million ($49 million) when its employee engagement index rises one percentage point. The financial impact of a higher employee engagement index results, among other things, from the fact that dedicated employees are more innovative and absent from work fewer days. Also, because they are more loyal to the company, there is less missed revenue and less recruiting and training costs traditionally associated with higher turnover rates.