Engaging Employees in the Community

By Jeremy Park

This week, let us extend the Giving Back conversation by exploring ways that a company can provide incentives to encourage employees to volunteer with nonprofits and get more engaged in the community.

Recently, I had a conversation about corporate philanthropy with an upcoming LPBC guest speaker, Richard Montanez, director of marketing with PepsiCo Americas Beverages. He echoed the trend highlighted in last week’s column where corporate philanthropy is now heavily focusing on engagement, noting that customers and employees alike are more and more expecting corporations to be directly involved within their communities. This means community engagement is truly becoming a fundamental component of corporate sustainability.

For business leaders, the key is finding simple, yet meaningful ways to create opportunities for employees, who are the real brand ambassadors, to give back in the community. Since most employees genuinely welcome an opportunity to support nonprofits and help our city, leaders must provide them with the encouragement, freedom, and support to do so. Below are three ways companies can manage the weekly workload, but also incentivize their teams to roll up their sleeves and make a “hands on” impact.

First, allow employees to modify their work schedule. Since many volunteer opportunities can fit within a workday, like tutoring youth afterschool from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., allowing employees to adjust their schedule provides an encouraging solution. Companies may allow employees to shift their day forward, so no time is lost, or make up the difference on another day. As another option, companies could provide a certain amount of time per month or year that may be allotted for corporate-endorsed volunteer days.

Second, tie active engagement to corporate sponsorships. Companies usually encourage employees to take leadership roles with nonprofits, like serving on boards or on steering committees. To show support, the company will then make the commitment to sponsor those nonprofit events in which the employee is participating. Tying corporate sponsorships to employee engagement shows support, offers encouragement, and also affords the employee a chance to strengthen their leadership skills. The nonprofit receives personal and financial support, and the company receives marketing and community goodwill, as well.

Third, tie corporate donations to volunteer hours spent at a nonprofit. There are many variations, but a basic example is if an employee donates 10 personal hours of service, the company will match the effort with a $500 donation on their behalf. Some companies will give employees an amount per year, like $1,000, which they can contribute based where they are actively volunteering.

These are just three examples to get your creative juices flowing. I encourage you to look at ways you can encourage your employees to get engaged and create your own opportunities to give back.

Jeremy Park, president of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at jeremyp@lpinsurance.com and followed on Twitter (@lpbreakfastclub) and Facebook (facebook.com/lpbreakfastclub).