In Part 1, we discussed how in-depth research on what employees want in an Employee Relief Fund (ERF) and what motivates them to give is important if you want to go past pure participation into true engagement.
You’ve listened to your employees and designed an ERF that supports them when faced with natural or personal disasters - the scenarios they recommended. Now you have to engage them in the program.
Armed with your research, create a communication plan that informs and inspires action. Your communication goal is two-pronged:
Informing employees of the program can be big and splashy if it’s a brand new program. Play up the types of relief that really resonated with your employees based on your research. The nitty-gritty details, although important, don’t have to be front and center. Just make sure it is clear where employees can find those details.
To inspire participation, which leads to engagement, use what you learned in your research about what motivates your particular employees to give. Perhaps it is the memory of a recent disaster that affected one or more of your communities. Perhaps it is their overarching compassion for those in need—naturally heightened when the affected individuals are colleagues. It might even be more personal, based on something that happened to them or that they fear might happen.
One way to both inform and inspire is to give “what-if” scenarios in your communications. These allow employees to both imagine how they would feel if they had a disaster as well as put themselves in another’s shoes. They’ll get a clear picture of how the Fund operates while their compassion is ignited by these scenarios. They’ll also feel good about the company and the program by the description of how, exactly, the ERF helps those in need.
It also helps if at least some of the communications come from senior management and are very personal. What story could your CEO tell that would inspire employees to give?
It has to be genuine, of course, but it’s worth talking to senior managers about how they feel about the program and query if there are any inspirational stories.
In the next blog, we’ll talk about keeping the momentum going and building engagement.
Linda B. Gornitsky, Ph.D.
President, LBG Associates
BLOG SERIES: For a Successful Employee Relief Fund, Think Engagement, Not Just Participation.
Dr. Gornitsky is president and founder of LBG Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in the development and implementation of strategic CSR, corporate citizenship and employee engagement programs. Her firm also conducts benchmarking, community attitude and evaluation studies, creates image-building/communications campaigns and identifies efficient management practices.
Prior to establishing LBG Associates in 1995, Dr. Gornitsky directed a variety of corporate communications programs, developed strategic contributions programs, managed contributions, public issues and public affairs departments and identified new management directions. She developed and managed strategic contributions programs for Citibank and Pfizer.
Dr. Gornitsky publishes on various aspects of corporate citizenship and has completed over 15 groundbreaking studies on subjects such as volunteerism, the environment, disaster relief and diversity. The most recent ones are on pro bono volunteerism (2018, 2016), global employee engagement (2014), and the building blocks of a successful volunteer program (2012).
Dr. Gornitsky is an adjunct professor at NYU, where she teaches classes on strategic philanthropy/volunteerism, and was a faculty member at the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College.
Dr. Gornitsky is president of LBG Research Institute, a CSR think tank, and on the boards of Skokie Jewish Family Service and UJF in Stamford, CT. She helped found and was on the board of Autism360. She was honored for her volunteer activities in 2007, 2016 and 2017.
Dr. Gornitsky earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Psychology at City University of New York. She also holds a Master of Philosophy, Master of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees, all in psychology.