SEPTEMBER 2014

BIGGER THAN A BALANCE SHEET
ENGAGING EMPLOYEES I N THE POWER OF PURPOSE

By 2030, 75 percent of the U.S. workforce will be
comprised of Millennials, the socially conscious
generation that strives to make a difference beyond
the bottom line and expects their employers to do the
same. As a result, organizations are increasingly
taking steps to engage employees in the company’s
overall purpose – its reason for being beyond making
a profit – and creating opportunities to contribute to
something larger and more meaningful than a
balance sheet.

A company’s purpose can take on many dimensions: adopting responsible business
practices, ensuring sound working conditions and compensation for employees, supporting
charitable causes, facilitating employee volunteerism
and community involvement - the list goes on.

Regardless how an organization defines its purpose, it
matters to the people who work there. Here are six
considerations for engaging employees in your
company’s higher calling:

1.) PUT EMPLOYEES FIRST. This is intuitive, but before
employees can aspire to contribute to something greater than themselves, their basic needs
must be met. Moreover, from a credibility standpoint, the Edelman Trust Barometer
indicates that treating employees well is one of the most important things a company can do
to build trust. Indeed, Fortune’s annual 100 Best Places to Work For list is packed with
organizations where purpose starts with employees. Costco pays hourly workers three times
the U.S. minimum wage, and The Container Store offers hourly workers a 401(k) match,
both of which are rarities in the retail industry. Taking an inside-out approach helps earn
employees’ loyalty, as both retailers have rock-bottom turnover rates.
CONNECTIONS

An Edelman perspective on making meaningful
employee connections that deepen engagement,
build trust and accelerate business performance.

Employees who say they can make
an impact while on the job report
higher levels of job satisfaction
than those who can’t by a 2:1 ratio.
(Net Impact “What Workers Want”)

of Millennials say ‘the opportunity
to give back through my company”
influences whether they join an
organization. (The M Factor)



2.) ALIGN PURPOSE WITH BUSINESS COMPETENCIES. Certainly, many companies support
a wide variety of causes and organizations, including those chosen by employees in their
local communities. That said, when building an enterprise-wide purpose platform, it is
advisable to align it with what the company does best so employees can contribute the
same skills and expertise they use on the job. The computer programmer who has never
held a power saw may feel he makes a bigger difference by designing an app for a nonprofit
than helping build houses.

3.) PLAY MATCHMAKER. Years ago, offering paid time off for employees to volunteer was
revolutionary. Now that such policies are widespread, companies are focusing on making it
easy for employees to take advantage of them. Instead of just saying, “here’s 8 hours, go
volunteer!” many use tools such as SAP’s Mobile Apps 4 Charity to match employees with
service opportunities based on their interests, skills and location, as well as organizing
company-wide days of service. HP
*
, for example, doubled its engagement goal by enabling
employees to donate $25 credits to small business owners through micro-lending non-profit
Kiva, in just a couple clicks.

As is the case with any change initiative, employees are more likely to participate if doing so
is effortless, versus adding onto their to-do lists.

4.) MAKE PURPOSE PART OF THE JOB. Some organizations are integrating purpose into
employees’ formal job descriptions. At KPMG, annual performance reviews include
community involvement as a competency alongside more traditional skills such as
relationship-building and leadership. Other organizations require executives to serve on
community boards or lead volunteer activities with their teams. As part of the PNC
*
Grow Up
Great program, employees volunteer their skills to support early childhood development, as
well as their own professional development. Through annual surveys, PNC found that
employees who are proud of the program are 10 times more likely to be engaged on the job.

Whether a company mandates involvement or merely encourages it, it’s important to be
clear what is expected, what is optional, and what will help employees advance their
careers.

5.) ENLIST LEADERS AND EMPLOYEES AS CHAMPIONS. Any behavior a company wishes to
instill across the enterprise will only catch on fire if leaders are fully on board first. Managers
who actively encourage their teams to volunteer (versus just approving requests for time to
do so) are halfway there. Even more compelling are leaders who volunteer themselves, as
employees look up the hierarchy for role models. Moreover, once employees are engaged



themselves, encouraging them to share their experiences internally and externally can be a
powerful form of ambassadorship.

6.) RECOGNIZE YOUR ALL-STARS. Honor employees who volunteer, live the company’s
values, or contribute to something larger than themselves. This can be a simple hand-
written thank you from the CEO or a round of applause at a town hall. On the more elaborate
end of the spectrum, this could include friendly competitions where employees can win
grants to pursue purpose-related projects, donations in their name to support a particular
cause, or even the chance to share their stories on a global stage. As part of its World Cup
sponsorship, one company invited employees to share why they’re passionate about
volunteering; 17,000 employees around the world voted for the most inspiring stories from
the 200+ submitted. Winners received a trip to volunteer alongside their fellow honorees
and attend the World Cup.
*
Edelman client

ABOUT US
Edelman Employee Engagement helps organizations accelerate business performance,
delivered by highly engaged and trusted employees. We do this by making meaningful
connections — connecting employees with the company, their colleagues and the outside
world – and with Edelman Business + Social Purpose we engage employees through
purpose. We have a global network of employee engagement specialists who develop
strategy; deploy tools and processes to deliver it; create multimedia channels and content
that support it; and design insight mechanisms to measure it. For more information, visit us
at ee.edelman.com, follow us on Twitter at @EdelmanEE or email us at
employee.engagement@edelman.com.

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