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April 25 -- Employees want more giving and volunteering opportunities, and companies are responding with more and varied philanthropic endeavors.
According to a new report from America's Charities, over two-thirds (68 percent) of employers report that their employees expect them to support volunteerism and half (50 percent) of employers are moving to year-round engagement with their workplace giving programs.
Sixty percent of surveyed companies are incorporating contests and events as a way to add fun to workplace giving programs and keep them vibrant.
America's Charities, which helps facilitate charitable giving by employers, released “Snapshot 2014: A Rising Tide of Expectations--Corporate Giving, Employee Engagement and Social Impact” April 24 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The report, which featured responses from 100 employers and 240 charitable organizations, found that companies are looking to connect employee charitable opportunities to overall engagement strategies.
According to the report, employee expectations regarding philanthropic programs include having an effective, contemporary workplace giving program, getting to use work time to volunteer, having opportunities to engage in skills-based volunteer activities and having the employer match charitable contributions.
“Employees, particularly the next generation of managers and leaders, view this as an expectation they have of their employer that actually impacts their positive or negative feelings toward the employer or prospective employer,” Stephen Delfin, president& CEO of America's Charities, told Bloomberg BNA following the survey-release event.
Employees are making decisions about where they work based in part on their perception of an employer's commitment to social responsibility, philanthropy and related areas, he said.
“This ties to the broader issue of employee engagement where the research shows that employees who are engaged and who feel good about their companies are dramatically more effective in their jobs, happier in their work, more productive and less likely to leave,” Delfin said. “These are all important business metrics.”
Emily Simone, director of community relations at Lockheed Martin, said at the Press Club event and in a subsequent interview with Bloomberg BNA that employee volunteerism at the Bethesda, Md.-based global security and aerospace company has seen a “rising tide over the past 10 years.”
“There is an expectation from employees that if they want to get engaged in the community there should be some avenues available through their employer,” Simone said.
She said that more than anything, the company and its employees want to know their workplace giving program has an impact. “It's more than just the output of the number of meals you served or kids you've served, but rather the long-term difference,” Simone said. “We want to see the difference is going to sustain itself.”
“Our employees volunteer nearly 1 million hours a year; that is a huge commitment from our employees to make a difference where they work,” Simone said.
Lockheed Martin uses a variety of incentives to increase engagement and participation in their workplace giving program, Simone said. Its largest workplace giving recognition platform is the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, where employees who contribute more than 100 volunteer hours a year are recognized with an award presented by the president of the company.
“We've looked at some of the key issues that are important to us, and we've tried to figure out how to tap into the interests and the excitement in our employees,” Simone said. “One of the areas we focus on is the military,” she said, adding that since Lockheed Martin is a defense contractor, helping veterans is “a big cause area for us.”
Simone also noted that Lockheed Martin allows its employees the opportunities to use their job skills for corporate volunteer efforts. “We think about how can we use these vast resources of people and their talents and what are some new, interesting and clever ways that go beyond painting walls to get some additional benefits and create a sustained giving model, and align that with sustained employee engagement,” she said.
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