‘Human Capital’ and the future of work is an increasingly hot topic at C-suite and investor levels globally. The material impact within and beyond business operations is well recognised, and an increased interest in the S of ESG is driven by investors seeking to minimise risks and address opportunities by acting on social issues (e.g. talent development for diverse future pipeline and financial inclusion through products and community engagement).
The 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that many employees value their workplace having a strong, clear purpose and a positive impact on the communities they serve. When it comes to talent attraction and retention, a corporate’s purpose and positive social impact is often an important factor and a potential systemic risk to the business. Employee engagement is a crucial aspect of any organisation’s community investment strategy, but it is not always easy to motivate and keep employees engaged – this is an ongoing process that requires attention, effort and innovative methods.
Basic employee programmes such as matched funding, payroll giving, and an employee volunteering policy are an important starting point for employee engagement. Even if employees don’t take part in these programmes, knowing that they exist can still instil pride in the company and give employees a sense of purpose. Moreover, these programmes play a role in a company’s social licence to operate and allow the company to build innovative employee engagement initiatives.
The first event in The Elephant in the Room: Corporate Foundation series focused on how corporate Foundations are tackling the challenges of employee engagement. Many participants remarked on the obstacles of awareness, time commitments, flexibility, resources, regional differences, and costs of employee engagement.
Picture Caption: Corporate Foundation practitioners participated in a word cloud, commenting on the challenges they face in engaging employees in volunteering initiatives.
As a leader in this space, the Bupa Foundation provided practical examples and innovative approaches to solving some of the challenges to engaging employees.
Anna Russell, Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Director Bupa Global & UK and Director Bupa Foundation and Claire Baker-Mosley, Head of Community Bupa Global & UK, identified three employee engagement challenges they have faced :
- How to make the company/strategy personal to employees
- How to capture the impact of employee engagement, and
- How to make it fun and something that people want to get involved in
To address these challenges, the Bupa Foundation has implemented several strategies, including:
- Creating Bupa Foundation Community Committees across the UK and globally. These committees are run by who volunteer their time to support flagship campaigns and give deeper connections to local causes. This approach helps to make employee engagement personal, as community committee members can select causes that matter to them and are aligned with the Foundation’s strategy. Community Champions can be especially key for global foundations because they can reinforce overarching themes and set clear guidelines on what can and can’t be funded. This model can empower local committees to source and select grassroots initiatives relevant to the region, facilitating deeper, influential impact.
- Run dedicated campaigns, such as #1 – Bupa Foundation’s – where employees were encouraged to do something for their health, the community, and the planet’s health. In addition to campaigns encouraging conversation within the company and creating community atmosphere, they can also streamline impact measurement. The Bupa Foundation incentivised the campaign by converting those minutes logged by employees into donations, which encouraged participation. The use of the internal platform and the incentivisation of the campaign makes impact measurement straightforward to capture and communicate back to the company.
- Implementing skilled volunteering programmes, where employees can make the most of their skills and expertise to help others.
Identifying employees with the right skills can be challenging when initiating a skilled volunteering strategy. Using an internal volunteering spreadsheet allows employees to actively search for opportunities, alternatively your team could take a more proactive approach and target your outreach to specific teams or individuals that could fit the need of the initiative.
Building on the basics and implementing strategies to make employee engagement personal, impactful, and fun can lead to a more engaged workforce and better business outcomes. Corporate Foundations can create better buy in and encourage future participation using a number of approaches.
- Positioning employees’ involvement in these initiatives as a positive, enjoyable thing to do
- Encouraging the corporate partner to incorporate engagement into employees’ goals
- Clearly communicating the capacity and flexibility of engagement
While the creation and implementation of Community Champion networks in coordination with your corporate partner may seem complex and resource intensive. B4SI and Corporate Citizenship have expertise and experience across multiple sectors with implementation, stakeholder engagement, resource design and training. And of course, B4SI provides a robust and globally recognized framework for measuring and managing the community and social impact on employees and the business. For more information on how the Framework can be applied to measure the impact of volunteering on employees, please reach out the B4SI team.
If you are interested in being featured in ‘The Elephant in the Room’ series addressing other challenges faced by Corporate Foundations, please reach out to the Business for Societal Impact (B4SI) or Corporate Citizenship teams.
Our next event in the series focuses on Standardized Impact Measurement and is scheduled for Thursday 14th September at 1pm BST. Register your interest here to attend.
 The Bupa Foundation’s purpose is to help people live longer, healthier, and happier lives and to make a better world. In 2022, the Bupa Foundation donated over £1 million to work with more than 80 charities to improve the wellbeing of thousands of people through a range of practical projects, many of which employees nominated, supported and volunteered with.
If you missed the webinar, or would like to watch it again, click here to see the recording.