Subject matter experts call employee engagement a blend of art and science. The measure of an employee’s satisfaction has long been one of the main ways companies gauge the success of cause alliances. As cause practitioners, we know this trend is here to stay! Today, employee engagement is a very tangible benefit corporations expect from their partnership investments; yet it’s a complex issue. Consider how the following key drivers fit into your cause alliance planning and how your cause marketing partnerships can help create an inspired workforce.
According to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, 85% of consumer respondents believe that business can pursue its self-interest while doing good work for society. Research like this clearly supports the strategy that now is the time for businesses to thoughtfully consider and make a strong case for playing a trusted role in bringing about societal change.
Overall, the Trust Barometer research cited four factors influencing how consumers shape their trust in business:
1. Industry and Sectors: Technology continues to lead while banking trails the pack. (Interesting note: Within the ‘banking’ industry retail banks are more trusted than financial services sector.)
2. Country of Origin: Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) nations suffer compared to Western based business.
3. Ownership Structure: Family-owned and small-to-medium enterprise (SME) outperformed big business.
4. Corporate Leadership: Trust in corporate leadership is no longer waning, but has hit a plateau. On the flip side, peer-to-peer trust is significantly rising.
One thing that creates a sustainable competitive advantage is an inspired workforce. When it comes to people, research has shown time and again that employees who are engaged significantly outperform work groups that are not engaged. In the fight for competitive advantage where employees are the differentiators, engaged employees are the ultimate goal.
Though there are many research studies that serve up multiple data points like the percentage of engaged vs. disengaged employees, few studies have looked at what really drives employee engagement. Dale Carnegie teamed with MSW Research to examine the functional and emotional elements that affect employee engagement.
A national representative sample of 1,500 employees was surveyed, which revealed that although there are many factors that impact employee engagement, there are three key drivers:
For further information, check out For Momentum’s previous blog post: Studies Show Business Case For Cause Partnerships, Including Huge Opportunities Around Employee Engagement
Most humans say they like data-driven, rational decisions, but in reality we are driven by emotions. In the workplace, strategies for recruitment and keeping workers engaged have historically focused on practical rewards such as pay increases, bonuses or flexible working hours. We now have come to understand that feeling-based personal relationships likely have the greatest influence, leading to engaged employees who are more effective, stay with their company longer and ultimately act as ambassadors for their organization.
Science demonstrates that people are more likely to help others when they feel good. Key positive emotions include empowerment, enthusiasm, confidence and inspiration. In the workplace, research supports the theory that employees personalize their work through emotions felt about the company’s actions as a whole and about their immediate supervisor in particular. Those who emotionally connect in a positive way with an organization feel a sense of ownership and are more likely to stay with it, delivering superior work in less time and reducing turnover costs.
I wanted to share some insights into how these engagement drivers factor into a long-standing relationship between SOS Children’s Villages and one of their global corporate partners, AMEC.
AMEC is one of the world’s leading international engineering, project management and consultancy companies. Headquartered in London, they are a focused supplier of services to customers in the world’s oil and gas, mining, clean energy, environment and infrastructure markets. SOS Children’s Villages has a global footprint spanning 130+ countries and is the largest organization dedicated to providing loving homes for orphaned, neglected and abandoned children.
SOS Children’s Villages has been AMEC’s strategic charity partner since 2007. During this time, AMEC has made valuable employee and corporate-level contributions to multiple locations across the charity’s extensive footprint. In the early years AMEC supported educational projects in Azerbaijan, Peru, Nigeria, the Philippines and Kazakhstan.
Additionally, AMEC and its staff rallied to provide strong support for SOS Children’s major emergency relief program appeals, following the Haiti and Chile earthquakes and the East African Famine, undertaking a series of fundraising events and providing generous corporate funding.
In 2013 AMEC employees collaborated to support the Syrian emergency relief appeal, assisting women and children forced from their homes by the conflict, through the provision of baby food, nappies and sanitary equipment to a growing number of mothers with infant children. In 2014, AMEC is raising money for a water project in the SOS village in Peru where children and families need a new water pipe installed. This will improve their quality of life and save money as families won’t have to fetch water or pay for its transportation.
Clearly this relationship has produced meaningful results on the global stage. This year SOS USA and several US-based AMEC offices have brought the partnership to life with new localized employee engagement activities:
Impact – Worldwide,153 million children have lost one or both parents and less than one percent of orphaned children today will be adopted. This 21st century global societal issue is one that AMEC has made a long-term commitment to address. Atlanta-based SOS Alums visited four AMEC locations to share their personal stories of growing up in an SOS village.
Their stories inspired action in a number of ways, including an employee who was so touched he shared his personal childhood story of losing his father and the power of soccer. “My father was a former Vietnamese officer who fought side by side with American Soldiers to protect the Democracy of South Vietnam. Apr 30, 1975, right after the Fall of Saigon, he was captured as POW. He left behind a wife and six children who lived in a hut constructed with corrugated metal roofing and ammunition-box wood siding. I was 8 years old, the oldest son. In after school hours, we children from my poor village had to collect firewood at a rubber plantation a couple kilometers away. The rubber plantation was our sanctuary where we spent time after school and during summers playing soccer. One day, we scavenged a torn soccer ball and stuffed it with dry hay to play. Soccer made us stay together and it drove us to spend more time together in the peaceful, healthy environment and friendship, and most of all kept us out of trouble.”
Relationships – Across multiple locations in the greater Atlanta area, AMEC recruited employees to play and volunteer together in a one day charity soccer tournament that served as the local kick off for the global SOS Children’s Villages World Cup Soccer campaign. Lunch-n-learns, employee fundraisers bolstered by a corporate donation match, World Cup bracket pool competitions and other activities create an atmosphere that fosters personal relationship development across functions, departments and offices.
Emotions – AMEC empowered employees and gave them a platform where their feelings were considered. Employees were given select highlights of a number of worthy SOS projects and asked to select their favorite. As mentioned above, a water pipe project in Peru was the clear winner. It’s extra work and you need infrastructure to execute this approach, but it is worth the effort to have employees feel valued and share a sense of pride in being included in the decision-making process. Choice is important and typically a company will experience greater employee participation when choice is allowed.
Follow #TeamSOS for all the latest SOS World Cup developments or to become an SOS Children’s Villages cause marketing partner. Please contact Amanda Eisen at (202) 888-1048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope this serves as a reminder that research proves it’s more than just “ok” for brands to support societal causes. Yes, it is a complex issue; but if you focus on these three drivers of effective employee engagement strategies, cause alliances can engender trust and motivate employees to help create an inspired workforce.