Could charity fundraisers be a way of engaging staff during the economic downturn?

Today is Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea which is a fundraiser for the Cancer Council and I organised an event at my workplace today. It’s such an easy thing to do- get your employer to put on morning tea and get your employees to donate a gold coin on the way in.

Simple enough concept- and it’s for a great cause.

But can the business benefit from these charity fundraisers as well?

I hadn’t really thought about it until this morning when I looked around at the huge crowd of people, enjoying a cup of tea/coffee- it was an extremely positive event.


So what does this have to do with employment engagement?

Employment engagement has to do with discretionary employee effort. Essentially it means that when employee’s have choices, they will act in a way that benefits the organisation. An engaged employee is someone who speaks positively about the company to other people, has an intense desire to be part of the organisation, and strives to achieve their very best at work (goes above and beyond to achieve objectives).

Think your people are happy and engaged? The stats say otherwise.
Check out this video (quite a good intro about employee engagement actually) which argues that in the average company, 59% are not engaged, 14% just show up for work (actively disengaged) and a mere 27% are actually engaged at work.

It’s something worth investing in because research suggests that benefits of employee engagement include higher productivity levels, higher profitability, and lower recruitment costs.

Additionally, with an ageing work workforce and the recession postponing many baby boomers retirements there is the potential that you’ll have more staff that just turn up to work because they feel they can’t retire yet. Dilys Robinson, principle research fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies, also notes that “Engagement declines as people get older and as length of service increases”. This could be bad news for the public sector!

So why are charity fundraisers a good way to encourage employee engagement?

On a very basic level if we think about the three steps in measuring employee engagement from Hewitt Associates, there are many ways a fundraiser can contribute to employee engagement.

The fundraisers are a great networking event where staff can talk positively to each other about things they are working on and meet new people
It makes people feel good about working at a place that supports the community and charity events.
Staff feel supported by the management team who have provided the morning tea free of charge for their people to support a good cause.
If the event is positive and a significant amount of money is raised, staff will talk positively about the event to others such as friends, family and clients- and may even ask them to become involved.

Staff may develop a greater desire to stay at a company that values its employees and their wellbeing.
These events make employees feel like they are part of something larger than their team/business unit and may allow an employee to see the bigger picture. Opportunities and objectives can be come more clear and achievable.

Events like this can make employees feel good about working at the organisation, the people they work with and the work they are doing. Overall, these things will make them want to worker harder when the choice is theirs, even when times are tough- because it’s a great place to be.


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