BrainTrust Query: What’s the Bottom Line Impact of Your Employee Volunteerism?

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Apr 28, 2010
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Commentary by Mark Johnson, President and CEO, Loyalty 360

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Loyalty 360 blog.

As employee volunteerism continues to spread across corporate America, companies have increasingly wanted to measure the impact of their efforts. As reported recently on CSRWire, HandsOn Network’s ROI and Impact Measurement Study, spearheaded by Coca-Cola, KPMG, and The Home Depot, will use online surveys to gather data directly from a company’s volunteers. Measurements will focus on impacts related to sales, recruiting, skill development, satisfaction, brand, and social-value creation.

Intuitively we know that doing good does well for the company as employees become more engaged and proud brand ambassadors when they feel their companies are socially responsible. Yet, I could not agree more that we need to take to the next level our understanding of the link between employee volunteerism and the bottom line. It’s critical for companies to have a tool to enable them to better focus their philanthropic efforts and measure the effect of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives so they can manage their volunteerism in ways that maximize the impact on both the business and the community.

Previous studies have shown that when employees understand how their company’s CSR initiatives make a difference in their jobs and in their communities, engagement levels rise. For instance, Sirota Survey Intelligence (May 2007) found that employees who are satisfied with their company’s commitment to CSR are likely to be more positive, more engaged and more productive than those working for less responsible employers. Sirota’s survey found that when employees have a positive view of their employer’s CSR commitment, employee engagement rises to 86 percent; when employees don’t have a positive view of their employer’s CSR activities that level drops to 37 percent. The survey also found that of the employees who are satisfied with their company’s commitment to CSR:

  • 82 percent feel their organization is highly competitive in the marketplace
  • 75 percent feel their employer is interested in their wellbeing
  • 71 percent rate senior management as having high integrity
  • 67 percent feel that senior management has a strong sense of direction

But how do these “feelings” affect the bottom line? I highly suspect that the ROI and Impact Measurement Study is going to show that employee volunteerism initiatives drive engagement which unlocks human potential and leads to better performance overall.

Discussion Questions: What effect do you think employee volunteerism has on bottom line performance? What areas (sales, recruiting, skill development, employee satisfaction, brand equity, social-value creation, etc.) benefit most from volunteerism programs?

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7 Comments on "BrainTrust Query: What’s the Bottom Line Impact of Your Employee Volunteerism?"


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Al McClain
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Al McClain
11 years 17 days ago

I guess I’ve been out of the corporate world too long to understand this. But, I never thought employee volunteerism should be about what it does for the bottom line in any way, shape, or form. Sure, large corporations need to measure everything, and be calculated about which charities they support, but trying to get an ROI on charitable ventures rubs me the wrong way. So, I must be naive, too.

Jesse Rooney
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Jesse Rooney
11 years 17 days ago

I would be surprised if CSR programs generate additional business or otherwise add directly to a company’s bottom line. However, the fact that strong CSR programs engender goodwill from employees makes them valuable. Presumably, this goodwill would reduce employee turnover and thereby result in less training and transition costs. Heck, having employees that feel good about working for their employer might even reduce stress levels and health care costs.

However, examining how volunteering effects the wealth of companies is putting the cart before the horse. Companies should encourage employee volunteering and corporate-civic involvement because it is right thing to do, not because it makes the company money.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
11 years 17 days ago

It been a while since I, too, was in a large corporate format. But here’s what I remember.

In one company I worked for we were involved with Toys for Tots. Apart from a “feel good” experience and the fact of doing true good work, there was no impact on the business.

But then I worked for other retailers who had “mandatory volunteerism.” I didn’t like it, and while it didn’t seriously impact my performance, it did impact my tenure with the company. Volunteerism should be just that. Voluntary.

Mark Johnson
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Mark Johnson
11 years 17 days ago

Most companies (53 Bank, P&G, Cintas, Chiquita) that I know very well have programs that encourage this participation and from building Homes for Habitat, to giving to the United Way (which is required by most all of the aformentioned companies) we see that the departments that have this commitment are closer, more connected outside of the workplace and this rolls over to the workplace.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
11 years 17 days ago

Jesse pretty much said it all. If (and, as Paula said, that’s a pretty big and important word) employees feel good about volunteering then they do their jobs better and feel better about their employers. Maybe no direct, measurable, impact on the bottom line but lots of indirect, immeasurable benefits.

Ray Grikstas
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Ray Grikstas
11 years 17 days ago

“Sirota Survey Intelligence (May 2007) found that employees who are satisfied with their company’s commitment to CSR are likely to be more positive, more engaged and more productive than those working for less responsible employers.”

I’m not sure this is just down to CSR, as the article seems to imply. Most likely, the employer is a pretty good place to work anyway–without the CSR element.

Or, to put it another way, I don’t think that cynically bolting a volunteer program onto a sweatshop employer will magically boost employee morale. Do you?

John Crossman
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John Crossman
11 years 14 days ago

I have not thought about it in those terms. We encourage and support our employees to be involved in the community because we believe in it. I would rather make less money and be relevant to those in need.

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