Categories: CSR TrendsTags:

Bridging Employee Engagement and Retention with a Collaborative Approach

Author: Linda Wilson

Corporations continue to prioritize how they show up to create a social impact for their employees, for their community and for their brand presence. As different parts of the world face many levels of economic uncertainty, people will remember how that company down the street made a difference, employees will remember how their employer gave support and brands will be remembered for better or for worse. Now is the time to collaborate and lean into purpose.

In August, I had the opportunity to join several leaders in corporate social responsibility from AT&T, Kellogg Company, Steelcase and The Cheesecake Factory at the From Day One Virtual Conference, Offering Workers Dignity, Purpose, and Fulfillment. In our breakout session, How to Activate Your Company’s Purpose in 3 Steps, panelists shared incredible insights on how to focus programs and initiatives on meeting the needs of the community and engaging employees with powerful results.

Each panelist spoke about different facets of activating purpose including identifying causes and initiatives, what is suitable for volunteering, factors to consider when starting a new program and how employees can amplify their efforts in a way that aligns with their passion and purpose, while fostering a sense of belonging.

One of the best ways forward is to be strategic and intentional in how business goals and social impact goals intersect, and how community engagement can fit within the professional development landscape that supports growing employee’s skills, opportunities and retaining top talent.

Leadership engagement and support is key to building an effective strategy, and with a cross-collaborative team of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Human Resources and Communications they can drive toward employee passion, while also building corporate brand and culture. Leveraging employees skills or any services that your company provides to help solve a social problem is a great way to create a lasting impact.

I had the opportunity to discuss some of the programs and initiatives I supported during my time as a CSR professional before joining YourCause. I shared a few examples of leveraging employees’ skills through volunteering and the impact it had on employees and the causes that aligned.

A few examples include:

  • Leverage Employee Resource Groups (ERG) and design engagement opportunities that support an equity focus and employee interests
  • Help a nonprofit with their operational growth and strategy (strategic planning, IT infrastructure, marketing, and partnerships)
  • Engage with students in K-12 and Higher-Education through mentoring, STEM/STEAM, environmental programs, and internships
  • Work with small business owners globally as professional mentors
  • Global programs that bring employees across diverse backgrounds and cultures together to support community projects or initiatives
  • Individual opportunities such as keynote opportunities or panel participation and board membership

In every program above, an opportunity to build a bridge between employee engagement and skill building for career aspirations automatically happened. Employees were excited and empowered to grow together, build leadership and technical skills and experience firsthand how they can contribute to something vitally important outside of their day to day lives.

Over the past couple of years, corporations have adjusted how they deliver on their social impact goals and how they engage employees both in-person and virtually. Employee skills and time were tapped for virtual opportunities that created new ways to participate.

In 2021, over 6.3M volunteer hours were recorded across 118 countries by over 380 small and mid-size to enterprise level companies, and 7.6M employees. For further insight, I recommend the 10th Annual Report on Corporate Social Responsibility and Employee Engagement Trends, that breaks down domestic and global results and insight on employee engagement and industries, along with trends and top outcomes.

CSRconnect is a solution designed to support employee engagement and corporate partnerships and create space for additional ways to engage employees in cross-functional initiatives such as employee resource groups, DEI training, wellness programs, and employee relief support just to name a few.

Related Resources

blackbaud employees giving back
Online Guide

Employee Volunteering Guide


Elevating Employees as Your Number One Stakeholder

About the Author

Linda Wilson is a Senior Account Executive on the Corporate Solutions team at Blackbaud, with over 15 years of experience working at the intersection of community engagement and corporate social responsibility (CSR). She is an equity impact leader, volunteer, board member and collaborator. In her current role, she works with small and mid-sized companies to provide an opportunity for them to explore industry best practices and build CSR and employee engagement programs utilizing Social Impact SaaS solutions. Linda’s social impact career began at IBM as a Corporate Citizenship Manager, building partnerships and programs with state, national, and global non-profit organizations that brought opportunities for employees to share their expertise and grow leadership skills. She holds a BA in Organizational Communication and Business Leadership from Marylhurst University and is certified in Prosci Change Management, Cornell Diversity & Inclusion and she is an LCTI Life Coach.

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