Using cause marketing to improve employee engagement

Cause marketing is a strategy which is often used by companies to attract consumers to their products, and with good reason. According to a recent corporate social responsibility study by Cone Communications:

  • 92% of consumers, if given the opportunity, would buy a product with social and/or environmental benefit
  • 84% of global consumers would tell friends and family about a company’s CSR efforts

(as reported by ForMomentum)

Those are powerful statistics in favor of establishing a strategic corporate giving program and using cause marketing to bring it to your customer base. But consumers aren't the only group that can benefit from and appreciate a well-executed cause marketing campaign. Consider these statistics:

  • 53% of workers and 72% of students say a job where they can make an impact is very important or essential to their happiness, with the students ranking it third in overall importance and only 1% behind marriage. (According to the Net Impact: What Workers Want study by Rutgers University)
  • Increasing the engagement level in a 10,000-person organization by 5% can boost profits by an estimated $40+ million. (According to Taleo Research)

(as reported by ForMomentum)

Building a fully engaged workforce has a very real and immediate impact on a company's bottom line while improving the long-term outlook.  Committing your company to a worthy cause your employees can embrace can be a key factor in creating that high level of engagement.

To create the most substantial impact on employee engagement, an internal cause marketing campaign needs to be built with the following ideas in mind:

Involve Your Employees in the Decision

The best way to create employee engagement through cause marketing is to involve employees from every level of the organization right from the beginning.  Discuss the business strategy and outline a range of potential causes that fall in line with it, and then create a framework for making a decision that everyone can take part in and fully support.

By getting employees involved in the decision of which causes to support and helping them to understand why it is important to the business, the resulting program feels more like a team effort and less like a corporate mandate.

Consider Supporting One Cause in Many Ways

It's impossible to settle on the perfect philanthropic solution that every employee can comfortably participate in. Get creative during the planning process and determine a few different giving options the company can offer in support of a cause.

For example, to support a local homeless shelter your company could:

  • Donate a percentage of net profit to the shelter every year
  • Set up a payroll deduction program to allow employees to automatically donate a portion of their paychecks to the shelter
  • Arrange for two employees to spend half a day working at the shelter each week
  • Organize a company-sponsored 5K run to raise money for the shelter
  • Donate company gift certificates as prizes for the shelter's annual silent auction
  • Offer special prizes to employees who volunteer at the shelter on their own time

By giving employees the opportunity to choose any or all of these avenues to pursue, you ensure their personal circumstances and comfort level don't become an impediment to their participation, and you put the decision in their hands.

An empowered employee will be an engaged employee.

Encourage Employees to be “Brand Ambassadors”

When someone gets excited about a cause, it's natural that they want to share it with others.

Online social networks make that natural desire thousands of times more powerful than it was in the past. You can take advantage of that fact and engage your employees in the process by encouraging them to share information about your cause marketing activities with their Facebook friends or Twitter followers, and especially to tout their own part in it.

Lead by example by giving the cause marketing campaign heavy exposure on the corporate social channels, including offering specific employee recognition that they'll be thrilled to share through their own networks.

Take the Long View

While employee engagement can be improved quickly and can yield nearly immediate results, it can disappear just as fast. Make sure that your cause marketing and employee engagement plans aren’t just a passing fad.

Maintaining employee engagement over the long term is far more effective as it encourages a loyal, knowledgeable and long-standing workforce that continues to increase in productivity and effectiveness. People who have been at a company for a long time tend to have better relationships with their co-workers, foster more collaboration within teams, and have a better chance of bringing new hires into the engaged fold as well.

Keep this fact in mind as you develop your plans. A cause marketing strategy that takes a long view – measured in years, not weeks – will have a better overall outcome in improving employee engagement.

Learn More about FrontStream's Workplace Philanthropy Platform

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