To Engage Employees, Connect Emotionally

manifest-employee-engagement-final-copyWe all know that corporate volunteering is good for communities, good for companies and good for employees.

But how can we better engage employees?

To get to some answers, our friends at Manifest hosted a focus group of some of Canada’s leading corporate citizens to explore current volunteer models – from team walks/runs/bikes to group clean up days. The goal was to better understand what’s working, what needs improvement and what an ideal program should look like.

Manifest thought they knew what the outcome of their gathering was going to be: that there was a growing shift away from the softer stuff (like community clean ups) toward more concrete initiatives (like skills-based volunteering).

Their sense was that corporations were increasingly looking for more professionalized opportunities that would better lever their functional areas of expertise.

But it turns out it’s not a matter of what you do that matters.

Rather, the single most defining feature of a successful employee engagement program is the emotional connection to the cause.

All volunteering efforts can be successful –  from sorting food to cleaning up parks to volunteering on a board to overhauling a revenue generation plan – as long as there is an opportunity for employees to feel something.

These feelings can range from feeling grateful to inspired to proud and from strong to energized to alive.

The bottom line? Emotional engagement wins the day for employees.

To learn about the seven features of the ideal corporate volunteering model, click here for Manifest’s comprehensive recap.

Purolator’s Tackle Hunger

Recognizing that hunger is an important issue that affects Canadians across the country, Purolator is committed to helping alleviate hunger in the communities in which its employees live work and play.

The Purolator Tackle Hunger® program works closely with employees, partners, agents, customers and food banks across Canada to collect donations and help raise awareness about the issue of hunger in Canada. Since its inception in 2003, the program has helped deliver the equivalent of more than eight million pounds of food to food banks across Canada. For more information, visit

Learn more about this program in the video below!

Manulife Volunteer Initiatives

manulife_investing_timeIn 2009, Manulife Financial looked to define a cause marketing strategy that would not only align well with their brand values (strong, reliable, trustworthy and forward-thinking) but would also have high potential to engage employees, advisors and Canadians across the country.

Inspired by the longstanding community work of their employees and financial advisors, Manulife chose volunteerism as their Signature Cause based on its potential to meet those two objectives. The opportunity was defined under three pillars: to inspire a new generation of volunteers; to support Canada’s volunteering community and help it grow; and to engage volunteers in great volunteer opportunities that match their interests, skills and schedules.

Today, a pillar of Manulife’s social responsibility efforts in Canada is their commitment to volunteering. With a pledge to inspire, support and engage every individual and every organization that is investing time and resources in their communities, Manulife supports a variety of volunteer-focused initiatives including:

My Giving Moment, a social marketing campaign supported by business and community leaders that celebrates and generates the kind of giving that is in the Canadian DNA.

GetVolunteering, a website that shows visitors how to get the most out of life through community involvement. A ‘Get Matched’ page provides a chance to give back wherever you live in Canada.

Bridging the Gap, a landmark research report developed in partnership with Volunteer Canada, The Centre for Voluntary Sector Research and Development and Harris Decima. The research explored today’s volunteers and potential volunteers to learn who they are, what they’re looking for and what they can offer, so that everyone’s efforts can be more effective.

Internally, 2287 Manulife employees dedicated 26,602 volunteer hours in 2013.

The Little Give

little_give_edelmanEstablished in the Vancouver office in 2008, “The Little Give” is Edelman Canada’s annual corporate social responsibility initiative that dedicates a little bit of seed money and a whole lot of employee time and energy to non-profit organizations working to alleviate hunger and poverty. Through skills-based volunteering, Edelman employees have the opportunity to give back to the communities in which they operate while providing expertise to grassroots not-for-profit organizations that don’t have the resources to effectively address their communications challenges.

The Little Give takes place over 48 hours in four Canadian cities: Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. The initiative has helped a range of charities, including the Kupe Arts Society, the YWCA, Moisson Montreal, Not Far from the Tree, and many others with diverse causes like providing bicycles for disadvantaged youth, opening up services to help families in impoverished neighbourhoods, and improving shared facilities like playgrounds and activity centres.

Team Depot

The Home Depot associates are encouraged and empowered to take a leadership role in the community through a program called Team Depot. From updating a youth shelter with a fresh coat of paint to improving storage solutions at a local transitional home to enhancing outdoor spaces, associates work with local charities to improve the homes and lives of thousands of deserving Canadians in need. Annually, The Home Depot associates contribute more than 60,000 volunteer hours to community projects across Canada. In 2013, Team Depot associates across Canada worked with a variety of community partners to complete more than 220 projects.