At the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, we have been busy finishing the analysis of our 2015 study of how companies are managing and executing the community involvement activities within their corporate citizenship efforts, and expect the final report to be released this fall.
The Center has been surveying companies and reporting on corporate community involvement practices since 1995. Over the past twenty years, the role of community involvement has evolved to become a strategic component of business. The majority of companies’ today report that community involvement contributes to key business goals, including improved reputation and the attraction and retention of employees.
As employers know, it’s not enough to recruit and retain employees. To see positive results employees need to be engaged in their work. Research by Gallup shows that companies with higher levels of employee engagement (defined as employees who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace) realize higher earnings per share, higher profitability, higher productivity, and higher customer engagement. They also achieve lower turnover, lower absenteeism, and fewer employee safety incidents. The good news is that the 2014 U.S. engagement levels are at their highest ever. The bad news is that engaged workers are still less than one-third (31.5 percent) of all U.S. workers.
This is where corporate citizenship and more specifically, community involvement can help. In our current study, more than 90 percent of companies identified increased employee engagement as one of the top three benefits of their volunteer programs. Meanwhile, close to 90 percent of the companies that proactively evaluate the relationship of employee volunteer programs to employee engagement found a positive correlation between employee participation in these programs and higher employee engagement scores. Similarly, research published in the Academy of Management Journal found that employees who participated in corporate giving programs experienced increased job satisfaction as a result of stronger commitment and an improved perception of the company.[i]
A quick glance at the CSR reports from some of the Center’s Community Involvement Roundtable members shows just how focused leading companies are on getting their employees to participate in community involvement.
- Altria had a 50 percent increase in volunteer participation from 2013 to 2014.
- AT&T increased their volunteer hours by 300,000 during that time.
- Booz Allen Hamilton, Insperity Inc., LG&E & KU, and Microsoft all had more than 60 percent of their workforce participate in community involvement programs in 2014.
- UPS and Wells Fargo reported more than 1 million hours donated to their communities by each of their companies.
These are just a few examples. When the Roundtable gathers in Columbus, OH this November there will be many chances for all the members to share their best practices and learn from each other. Increasing employee participation in community involvement programs often means offering multiple ways for employees to get involved – from global days/months of service to matching donations and time to offering paid time off. Companies willing to make these investments will reap the benefits of having an engaged workforce. Look for our Community Involvement report this fall to read more about these findings.
[i] Grant, A. M., Dutton, J. E., & Rosso, B. D. (2008). Giving Commitment: Employee Support Programs and the Prosocial Sensemaking Process. Academy of Management Journal, 51(5), 898-918.