Top eight employee engagement strategies to improve your social impact programs for 2022 and beyond

In today's episode, you'll learn eight strategies to improve your employee engagement for 2022 and beyond. We discuss how to make programs more personal and how to make it easy. We also explore how matching programs and incentives play a significant role. Finally we chat employee resource groups and building strong ambassador networks.

Watch the episode:

Prefer to listen?

What we discussed:

Karl Yeh:  

Our special guest today is Kathryn Pisco. She is the Director of Goodness Solutions here at Benevity. We're going to be talking about employee engagement in [00:00:30] 2022. Kathryn, I hear you have several, or six top employee engagement strategies that CSR professionals and social impact professionals can actually implement today and throughout this year and beyond and to increase employee engagement and increase their social impact programs.

8 Employee Engagement Strategies for 2022

Kathryn Pisco:              

Yes. I can't take credit for all six of these because I'm pulling from a lot [00:01:00] of data that we're seeing across the space.

We at Benevity came out with something called the Corporate Purpose Playbook where we looked at a ton of data across fortune 1000 clients.

We identified six practices across these clients that really drive measurable results in workplace giving and participation engagement all year round.

These six on the list are based off of what we saw across our entire Benevity client community.

1. Make programs personal

=[00:01:30] The first is really making these programs personal.

People are five times more likely to give their time, money, and talents, if they can actually choose the cause that they want to support.

We spoke previously also about all the opportunities and advantages that employees have now due to things like the great resignation and the ability to have more opportunities for roles there.

[00:02:00] What we're seeing is that the most successful programs and companies leading these CSR programs are really putting a lot of power in the hands of the employees and really making these programs highly personal.

People are five times more likely to give their time, money, and talents, if they can actually choose the cause that they want to support

2. Make it easy

The second trend or strategy that we're seeing to truly increase employee engagement this year is just to make it easy.

We always say, "Let's reduce any points of friction across the CSR program."

You're already doing a lot of that just by having a technology provider [00:02:30] that's helping you run these CSR programs.

Payroll giving

But things like enabling payroll giving, we see that there's 69% more participation and employees give about four times as much when you have something like payroll giving enabled at your company.

Employee volunteering

Giving your employees options when they're volunteering, so we've seen a trend where instead of the traditional way of thinking about volunteering, where it used to be, "Okay, I volunteered X number of hours at this [00:03:00] nonprofit in-person."

Because of COVID we saw a big shift and adoption of virtual volunteering, but we've also seen a lot of companies giving credit for volunteerism and things that aren't even connected to a nonprofit, things like doing small acts of kindness or goodness, shoveling your neighbor's driveway, doing a beach cleanup, a lot of things like that, where you're just giving your employee more options, you're meeting them where they are.

More volunteering opportunities

[00:03:30] Also, just more options to volunteer. That's a great way to increase engagement.

Instead of having one or two things in an area or corporately, how can you bring more opportunities?

Part of that is shifting that mindset, like I mentioned earlier, and not having it be that traditional volunteerism, putting things virtually, but also, can you empower some of your volunteer ambassadors to find really awesome opportunities in their own communities and put it on [00:04:00] the platform?

Or can you pull in?

At Benevity, we work with volunteer match and have a whole integration where you can pull in those couple million volunteer opportunities, really thinking creatively, just to make it simple and easy for your employees

Karl Yeh:                      

With a lot of, I guess, workers being remote, what are some of the new you, I guess, volunteer or employee engagement opportunities that have arisen because of not everyone's at the office?

What are the new volunteering opportunities arising from remote work?


Kathryn Pisco:              

Yeah, there's been so much, [00:04:30] but it's really been a challenge, not only from companies and practitioners to find these volunteer opportunities, but for non-profits.

If you think about, this is a complete change in how they engage their corporate partners and their volunteers.

When COVID hit, most nonprofits and causes were focused on just operationally trying to continue to about their mission and it's really challenging to revamp and make a completely new way [00:05:00] to work with volunteers.

But we've seen a lot of pro bono volunteering happening, where we have professionals that are highly skilled in areas like strategy or communication, working with nonprofits, first and foremost, to just help them shift their way of engaging nonprofits.

We've seen a couple standbys, things like missing maps, where it's a virtual volunteer opportunity where you can actually [00:05:30] map out areas across the country and world that are previously not mapped.

Things like that have really risen have always kind of been there, but have really increased in popularity.

We've also seen people running virtual volunteer events just internally.


At Benevity, for instance, we realized how challenging it was on working parents during the pandemic to just have your kids home when they're quarantined, [00:06:00] schedules are changing, so we created volunteer opportunities where a Benevityite could put up some time of their own offer to give an hour to actually hang out over Zoom with their colleagues' kids, do things like teach guitar, or we read a book, and something like that that's super creative, it's not tied to a nonprofit, but it really is a win-win-win.

It's great for the employee, it's great for the volunteer, it's great for the kids that are beneficiaries, [00:06:30] and so we've really seen people get creative.

3. Matching

A third trend or strategy that we've seen is really concentrating on matching.

This is something that we've seen.

That's not necessarily new, but we were excited and a little surprised to see that employees are twice as likely to donate when companies actually offer donation matching, where there's a stated cap or a budget there.

We recently in introduced something at Benevity called "peer matching" [00:07:00] that also allows an added component to this as well.

Instead of just maybe a company doesn't have budget to do an employee match, but they still want to take advantage of something, your peer, your colleague could actually decide, "Okay, I'm very passionate about whatever cause.

I'm willing to put up my own money towards this cause and match my colleagues as they participate," and so we've seen creative things like that really amplify [00:07:30] engagement and be a great way.

We've also seen there's a lot of data shows that you're much more likely to give to a nonprofit that your colleague asks for, too, so things like peer matching, and then just more broadly offering that corporate match are just an amazing strategy moving forward into this year.

We've also seen a huge increase in participation when there's special matching campaigns as well, two-for-one matches.

For instance, with the recent and ongoing horrific situation [00:08:00] in Ukraine, here at Benevity even, we offered a two-for-one match, and it really allows...

In a very short amount of time, we were able to raise over $100,000.

We've seen this, not just here, but across our entire client community, and so not only offering matching or getting creative and do something like a peer match, but then thinking strategically about how to really increase that engagement.

That's by offering things like special matches and incentives as well.

Then I guess to dive in a little deeper on incentives, that would [00:08:30] be a fourth way that we're seeing companies be really strategic in growing employee engagement this year.

Things like Dollars for Doers, for instance, rewarding your employees for engaging with causes that they care about.

We've seen also, it's interesting, it doesn't matter really from our data, how much you give from a Dollars for Doers program, whether it's $5 an hour or $50 an hour, it really [00:09:00] still incentivizes your employees to go and engage more, so it's just the mere fact that you offered that incentive.

Other incentives can include that special matching campaign I was mentioning before, or something like seeding your employee's account, so the ability when you launch the program for the first time, say, "We have seeded X amount of money in everyone's account.

Go in, check it out, sign in, donate to a cause." Or [00:09:30] maybe rewarding someone for something that they did well, or maybe a milestone, all of those ways of utilizing technology to actually incentivize your employees to utilizing the platform and getting more engaged in goodness.

Karl Yeh:                      

Does incentives also include, I guess company by company, but incentives include things like personal benefits for employees, or is it mostly focused on giving?

What constitutes incentives?


Kathryn Pisco:              

[00:10:00] As it relates to CSR, we've seen most of the incentives around giving or you're incentivized to volunteer more by getting your company will say, "If you volunteer an hour, we will then donate money on your behalf to a nonprofit," so sometimes those things can be tied very closely together as well.

Other times we see things, and this isn't necessarily within a technology platform, sometimes it's done outside the platform, but [00:10:30] can you con create competition or some sort of contest where people are trying to either raise money, or maybe it's log a certain number of hours, or maybe you're on teams, whatever it is, you can get points, instead of maybe getting money to donate to a nonprofit, maybe you're getting points that you can redeem or awards.

I know within the Benevity platform, you can get badges, which are really popular across some of our clients. It doesn't [00:11:00] necessarily have to be related to just giving or, or money.

I think you can think about things in a variety of different ways there.

All right, I think I'm on number five of six strategies for growing employee engagement this year in 2022.

5. United giving and volunteering

I think another one is we've talked a little bit about how important giving is incentivizing giving, doing matching, how important volunteerism is, but we've really seen a key trend in uniting giving and volunteering.

[00:11:30] When companies have an integrated employee giving and volunteering programs, givers volunteer more, and volunteers actually give more.

We've also seen that there's a direct correlation just as a benefit of the more employees are engaged in not only just giving, not only just volunteering, but both, that actually makes the employees feel much more connected to their company.

They're happier at work, they're more engaged, and they're less likely to turnover, too, so [00:12:00] not only do you have more engagement, you raise more money and you benefit more causes through volunteering, but your employees are actually more happy.

We see that if you strategically unite that giving and volunteering together.


6. Internationalizing your program

Then I'm sure there are many other strategies, but the last one I had for you was really internationalizing your program.

We've seen even in the last year Benevity's faction for promoting global programs.

It's called Benevity OneWorld. [00:12:30] That's grown by 35%, even just in the of last year.

We've seen that companies really believe now is the time to internationalize and have a truly global program for many reasons, one of which, though, is really its most inclusive way to approach this kind of work.

Companies are really believing, especially with COVID, now everything is virtual.

There should not just be one benefit offered for employees at home office for instance, [00:13:00] but it should be something that is really offered across the entire company streamlined so that someone, whether they're in India, or Norway, or Canada, or the United States, can really participate in this program, create this truly inclusive global program.


Karl Yeh:                      

What about companies who are, I guess, are on the precipice of going global?

Is that something that you have to have a full program and everything laid out?

Or is it just, [00:13:30] you know what, we are eventually going to go there, anyway, let's build up our strategy, build up our programs to ensure that once we are ready, we can just lift off and go?

Kathryn Pisco:              

Yeah, we typically recommend that, but we also see the most success probably from a let's walk before we can run.

If, for instance, it's a US or North American-headquartered company with a lot of global offices and maybe there's a much more, what we see often is [00:14:00] there's a very established North American program, largely because that's where home offices is.

We highly recommend that global companies consider and plan for and work into the strategy and loop in stakeholders across their global community from day one, but maybe when you're rolling it out, you start with the lowest-hanging fruit, "We know that we have a successful North American program, let's launch there first, and then roll it out to the rest [00:14:30] of our global offices."

But we find that it's much easier as a whole. If you think of the strategy from a holistic global perspective from day one and then build from there.

Karl Yeh:                      

Do you have anything else to add in terms of other employee engagement strategies for 2022? I know we listed off six, but anything that you want to close it off with?

Kathryn Pisco:              

Well, I think there's two other trends that we're seeing a lot of that have, just as I was thinking [00:15:00] about this, that are a little bit more specific than some of the more broad ones I just mentioned.

7. Employee resource groups

One thing is employee resource groups and ERGs, which is the acronym for them.

It could also be associate resource groups they're called, or business resource groups across different companies.

I think with an increasing focus that companies are putting on diversity, equity, and inclusion, these business resource groups are key as a way to not only improve company culture and [00:15:30] really empower into individuals, but we've also seen a large overlap between these ERGs and CSR initiatives, and so I think figuring out a way to truly engage these ERGs, connect them, build partnerships with their CSR partners.

The leaders of these ERGs also tend to be some really amazing employees that are passionate, and so I think thinking about that as part of the strategy is really going to be important.

Karl Yeh:                      

[00:16:00] You mentioned there was two other additional trends. You have an ERG. What was the second one?

8. Build strong ambassador networks

Kathryn Pisco:              

The other thing that we've been seeing a lot about, and it's not necessarily brand new or groundbreaking, but it's something that we've heard a lot from our client community, and that is really leveraging and building strong ambassador networks and programs.

We get the question all the time, "How hard is it, or how many people do we need dedicated to running these CSR programs?"

The interesting thing is that when companies have [00:16:30] ambassador programs, so that means maybe you have someone in every market, or at various offices that have taken the lead on their CSR, so in charge of, or even if it's organically spearheading, volunteer events or fundraisers, things like that.

You have feet and brains all over the country, or even world, and it makes it a much more, in addition to partnering with technology, really allows you to scale your program in an effective way that's also [00:17:00] highly personalized.

I know we have a couple resources on the best ways to build your ambassador network, but we always recommend that's something that companies consider.

It's not always easy to do, but by doing so, it really takes a lot of the work and administrative burden off of the people leading the program so they can focus more on strategy, but also then empowers employees from across your company and all over the world to really take ownership of the program. By doing that [00:17:30] successfully, you can really scale.

Question of the Day:

How would you change or adapt your employee engagement strategies today?