While it is true that monetary benefits can be a critical factor in employee engagement and retention, they are certainly not the only factor here. Most people might not know this, but workplace giving is actually one of the most important contributing factors to employee engagement. The psychological explanation behind this is that humans define themselves in the wider context of their communities. It is in their nature to want to be a part of something bigger. This is especially true for millennials who want to make an impact while also contributing to the community that they are in. In fact, 80% of millennials want to work for a company that cares about contributing to society, and over half of them would not work for a company that does not have strong corporate responsibility practices.
By giving employees the opportunities to connect and engage with the community through CSR programs like Workplace Giving that merely allows employees to donating their money on monthly basis, they will feel more connected to the organization. This in turn would make them feel like an important part of the community. Here is more on the psychology behind how workplace giving can promote employee engagement:
The concept of shared identity to promote employee engagement is supported by Adam Grant, the highly-regarded Wharton School professor. In his book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, it states that workplace giving can enhance employees’ affective commitment, helping them to see themselves in a positive corporate context. His study shows that employees who engaged in the act of giving in the workplace were found to be more committed to the organization. Employees were also found to be more caring, which helped them to be more productive in the workplace.
The Neuroscience Behind Giving
Author Jean Decety from the University of Chicago has recently published an article in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, The Neuroevolution of Empathy. Similar to Grant’s work, the study demonstrates that the act of giving can make people feel good as our brains release dopamine – the happy hormone. This is the same neurotransmitter responsible for when we receive financial rewards, which means that the simple act of giving can really make us happy, especially when it benefits others rather than ourselves.
The Sense of Belonging
The two studies mentioned above are both associated with the concept of prosocial behavior, which can be defined as the intent and actions that benefit others. In other words, when people give, or sacrifice their time, money, and energy to engage in behaviors that benefit other people, they are being prosocial. For example, donating money to a charitable cause is considered a prosocial behavior.
As humans, we were able to thrive as a species through prosocial acts, whether it be by supporting each other, giving money to charity, or doing positive things for the community. It is in our nature to want to understand who we are within the society, as well as what is required of us to help improve the community in which we are in. This, again, explains why workplace giving can help people find a meaning regarding their place in the company in a positive way. Instead of leading them to believe that they are merely part of a corporate mission, prosocial activities including workplace giving can help them feel like they are part of an altruistic community driven by justice and altruistic values. When employees realize that they are actually doing something good, not just for the company but for the community as a whole, they will develop a higher sense of belonging, which in turn makes them more loyal to the company.
Key Drivers of Employee Engagement
Based on the evidence mentioned, it is clear that prosocial behaviors in the workplace should be encouraged. Here are the key areas that workplace giving can help to improve, all of which can lead to higher employee engagement:
Engaged employees are simply more productive than those who are not. According to the finding by Gallup, highly engaged teams are 21% more productive than those with lower engagement. In fact, those who are within the top 20% in engagement have shown a 41% decrease in absenteeism and a 59% reduction in employee turnover. Productivity can be reinforced by prosocial activities within the workplace, which will then lead to higher engagement and lower absenteeism.
2. Ethical Behaviors
When employees participate in prosocial behaviors, they learn to make decisions in a more ethical manner. As a result, ethical behaviors become collective, which eventually will turn into a part of the company culture.
By being given the chance to do good for the community at large, employees will develop the feeling of gratitude towards the company. This will enhance their connection with the organization on an emotional level.
Corporate pride is arguably the most important factor in employee engagement. Believe it or not, the study at Facebook found that company pride is the single most crucial driver of engagement. Corporate pride can be encouraged through workplace giving and other prosocial activities. That is because as employees are able to give back to the community, they feel a sense of pride, not just in themselves but in the company as well.
It is beyond doubt that the act of giving and doing good for the society can be beneficial for both employees and employers alike. Workplace giving can be a powerful way to drive employee engagement, which would result in 13% higher productivity within the workplace, 50% lower turnover and absenteeism, as well as higher profitability as a whole. By developing the culture of giving and providing the channel for employees to work together as a team for a good cause, a positive employee experience can be reinforced. For this reason, it is important that workplace giving should be effectively incorporated into the company’s current corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan. Once that is done successfully, the company can attract the best talent in the market, particularly those millennials who are looking for a job that allows them to give back and contribute to society in a positive and meaningful way.
Don’t know where to start? Go to Get Involved to find the causes your employees can support.