With a career of more than 25 years spanning tiny startups and Fortune 25 behemoths, I’ve seen the power of community involvement in unifying employees, workgroups, and even entire business lines.
Beyond the camaraderie and warm fuzzies people get from doing good, corporate volunteer events and workplace giving campaigns provide other hidden, difficult-to-measure value to a company–business gets done at workplace giving campaign events.
A lot of things can split up employees and business units, making people feel disconnected. Project teams competing for internal resources (technology, budget, etc.) may distance themselves from each other. The natural skepticism immediately following a big merger or during a cost-cutting consolidation, when people are uncertain of their role going forward, creates division. And simple focus on the day-to-day work have can get employees stuck in ruts that end up as missed opportunities for collaboration and innovation. A good workplace giving campaign can help overcome these divisions.
I saw this at Wells Fargo, where every year the campaign brought team members together, outside their normal day-to-day context. For many, it was the only time they got to reach across departments to talk about collaboration. I saw more than one idea sparked at a campaign function, which led to meetings and new collaborations between departments that had otherwise not been in contact with each other.
The campaign’s unifying effect also affects morale. It was a powerful lesson to watch Wells Fargo and Wachovia employees during a difficult merger period come together to common purpose of doing good in the community. Campaign events helped to break down growing barriers of distrust as employees from both sides collaborated and came to know each other as more than just company human resources.
My friend Rebecca Wang, a Corporate Social Responsibility thought leader with over 17 years community engagement experience at Cisco and Hewlett Packard, has seen a similar effect in engaging teams. She told me, “In my role leading our global employee giving and volunteering programs, I helped managers leverage my program’s tools and resources to meet their specific employee engagement and team-building goals.” She further noted that about two-thirds of HP/HPE employees said the company’s culture of community engagement played an important role in their decision to join the company. I saw similarly strong numbers in my role at Wells Fargo.
I think that many of today’s managers inherently have an idea that community involvement plays a role in employee morale and corporate reputation, but I doubt many truly understand the depths to which an employee giving campaign helps to unify employees and achieve business goals.
Have you found surprising ways in which your workplace campaign has unified your workforce or helped your business? You can tell me, and pick up tips from leading practitioners, at the Charities@Work conference in New York, June 28-29.
Peter Dudley is an author and nationally recognized expert in corporate social responsibility, marketing, and employee engagement. He’s worked the last 17 years in CSR running employee giving and volunteerism for Wells Fargo, where his workplace campaign was ranked #1 nine years in a row by United Way Worldwide. Before joining Wells Fargo, Peter held various roles in high tech startups, from Marketing Director to software development to community management.
Peter is honored to serve on the Community Health Charities national board of directors as well as the Charities@Work Corporate Advisory Council, which he chaired in 2015 and 2016. He has also served on and chaired United Way Worldwide’s Global Corporate Leadership Council.
Peter lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is the proud father of both an Eagle Scout and a transgender daughter.