6 Strategies on How to Engage Remote Employees

A mere 6% of Americans worked mostly from home in 2019. By 2021, that number had tripled according to the American Community Survey. Depending on who’s talking, that’s good news, right?

On the one hand, employees reported higher productivity, increased morale, and better communication. 

But then there is the reality. Once the honeymoon period is over, how do you engage remote employees to keep them happily employed in your company? Beyond that, how can your company continue to reap the benefits that accrue from a productive remote workforce?

Pew Research reported in 2022 that when the pandemic was over 60% of workers in jobs that can be done remotely say that they would prefer to work from home all or most of the time. On the plus side, they are enjoying a greater work-life balance and feel more capable of getting the job done. Then there’s the 40% who don’t want to work from home, and even for those who do, there are downsides.

The Inherent Risk in the Remote Model

Harvard Business Review reports that while businesses have seized the opportunity to broaden their talent pool and increase their flexibility, there are social risks that companies can’t afford to ignore. 

Among them are increased levels of loneliness, and isolation. Burnout is no small issue, either. Yes, work-from-home employees have greater control over when they work. However, this can be a double-edged sword with today’s always-on technologies. 

In fact, remote employees find themselves working longer and harder without the rewards that come from office camaraderie and over-the-cubicle chats with co-workers. They don’t even have a decompression time afforded by a commute.

When workers feel overworked, this can lead to disengagement. It’s the last thing you want for any employee, but it’s even more detrimental for remote workers since, without that face-to-face contact, it can go undetected. There are fewer opportunities to pick up on the visual cues that employees offer when you ask “how’s it going?” Indeed, remote workers may not feel the same sense of loyalty as they would if they worked in the office. 

Yet, remote work isn’t going to go away. Today, the challenge is how to engage remote employees and keep them productive for the long haul.

Strategies on How to Engage Remote Employees

All employees, whether they are office-based, hybrid, or remote, can benefit from well-designed retention strategies. 

Check out our top 10 here. In addition, your remote workforce may need additional strategies to address issues that, although perhaps not unique to them, impact them more. 

Here are six strategies to ensure that your remote employees stick around.

1. Enforce Sustainable Work Habits

The highly touted increase in productivity was a hallmark of remote work during the pandemic. But this could actually be a warning sign that employees are on the fast track toward burnout. 

A Microsoft survey indicates that in the year following the start of Covid-19, meeting times have increased by 148%, emails by 40.6 billion, and the number of people working on collaborative documents by 66%. 

Sure, some of this frenetic activity has to do with remote work, but “doing stuff” does not always equal greater output. In fact, it could be a sign of inefficiency. At the very least, it’s what happens as workers try to do more to prove their worth by being always on and always available. It may take some creativity, but companies can and should respect and enforce breaks and sensible work habits. GitLab, for example, uses virtual coffee breaks which allow employees to chat together on a video call.  

2. Provide Opportunities to Network

When workers are remote, they may miss out on opportunities to network across the company. Those chance meetings and hallway encounters no longer happen. Consequently, networks are getting smaller and the move toward dismantling silos that we saw in the previous decade is all but disappearing.

Some employees will seek networking opportunities beyond the workplace by joining LinkedIn or alma mater groups, pursuing community and volunteer activities, or even spending time in co-working spaces. Still, it’s important for companies to provide remote teams with more opportunities within the organization to keep them engaged. The company can do this through virtual affinity groups, classes, cross-functional teams, and coordinated volunteer activities in the community. 

3. Make the Physical Office Space More Enticing

Most remote workers need to come into the office from time to time, particularly if they work a hybrid schedule. The office should be an inviting space with plenty of areas for collaboration.

It’s good to include comfortable rest areas and accommodate nursing moms, exercise, power naps, and more. Every office is different, of course, and not every company has expansive facilities, but a facilities planner can help optimize the space and make it a welcoming place.

4. Supercharge Your Onboarding Processes

A lackluster onboarding experience gets remote employees off to a shaky start. In addition to equipment and software, onboarding employees need support using the technology effectively, finding the right resourcing, accessing documents, and understanding the quirks of the culture. 

Don’t assume that just because you have a Gen Z employee, you can plug them into the platform and walk away. While they may fully understand the technology and be fully functional when it comes to performing the job, they may also need the human connection that is missing from a Zoom meeting. 

Find ways to facilitate the establishment of personal relationships in person.

5. Keep the Virtual Doors Wide Open

There are plenty of creative ways to collaborate and work together via technology. Every encounter shouldn’t necessarily be about work. Plan virtual coffee breaks, happy hours, games, birthday celebrations, or even non-work-related classes. 

It’s not just about peer-to-peer contact. Remote employees need to feel included by their managers. This is particularly important when their managers aren’t physically available. 

In-office employees can always talk to their manager even if it’s just a five-minute chat in the hallway. These chance encounters are important because they afford employees and managers an opportunity to connect and air concerns. Make an open-door policy a deliberate and demonstrated part of your communication strategy.

6. Get Interested in Your Employees

It takes very little time and energy to get to know more about other employees. What are their passions? What do they do in their time off? What do they value? What causes do they support? 

When employees know that you’re interested in who they are as people, they feel more engaged and committed to you and to the mission of the company. 

One way to open up a value-based dialogue with employees is by providing a corporate giving platform like Groundswell. 

Groundswell makes it easy for your company to embrace the causes that are important to them. The platform provides a tax-advantaged personal giving account to employees. Your company can contribute matching funds or even sponsor employee volunteers. It establishes charitable giving as an employee benefit, attracting and retaining values-driven talent with a perk that matters. 

To learn more, contact Groundswell.

How To Promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace

It’s easy enough to incorporate DEI into your values statement and add a page or two to your website. But like every other aspect of your business, when it comes to implementation, things can get a bit more complicated. If you find yourself wondering how to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the real world, you are not alone.

The good news is, however, that it can be done. It’s worth getting it right, too, because the rewards will come. For many companies, it’s not just a matter of sentiment. In fact, diversity doesn’t always feel warm and fuzzy. Sometimes it can feel a little uncomfortable. But that’s when you know it’s working and you’re reaping the benefits.

In today’s climate, diversity, equity and inclusion matter. In this article, you’ll not only learn more about why it matters, but you’ll also understand how it feels. Finally, we’ll give you some ideas on how to promote DEI in the workplace.

Why DEI Matters

The data just keeps stacking up. Diversity is good for your business. Of course, DEI is competing with a myriad of other business imperatives. But when it comes to cultivating a high-performing organization, there are many compelling reasons that DEI should garner attention. Diverse teams are more engaged and productive. The best teams are adept at problem-solving and spawning innovation. Teams that are gender diverse are powerhouses, but teams that mix ethnic backgrounds? Even better.

Yet many organizations simply have not matured in their DEI efforts so that they can reap the full benefits. In a 2022 HR Research Institute survey, although 44% of respondents said that their organization’s DEI initiative plays a role in strategic planning, just 9% of companies said that the effort was very effective. That leaves a lot of room for improvement.

The U.S. is becoming increasingly diverse. The 2020 Census revealed that nearly half of the population under the age of 18 identify as something other than white. Companies that invest resources into their DEI initiatives will be able to reap long-term benefits. Those that do not will fall behind.

Forget About How It Looks. What Does DEI Feel Like?

Diversity is something you can try to quantify. But the numbers alone are not enough. In order to get the benefits from your DEI efforts, you need to cultivate an equitable and inclusive work environment. In short, this means that employees feel a sense of belonging. While there are various reasons employees give when asked why they feel they do not belong, researchers at Columbia Business School say it comes down to “identity threat.” 

Identity threat is anything that makes someone feel different than others. This can be relatively minor, such as when a manager talks to a group of low-income employees about vacationing in Italy. It also includes micro-aggressions, such as when a highly qualified Black manager is told that she is “so articulate.” Researchers found that participants reported an average of 11 such experiences a week. 

Although identity threat is associated with feeling excluded, that isn’t all. More importantly, individuals feel that they cannot be themselves at work. Predictably, this leads to discontent and may explain why some companies lose diverse employees as quickly as they bring them on. 

How To Get the Most Out of DEI Efforts

DEI isn’t about walking on eggshells. However, it does require that managers think more deeply about how to root out systemic and institutional biases. Laying blame on groups or individuals for implicit biases doesn’t help, nor does it ingratiate employees to the cause. Either they feel exonerated because their biases are not their fault, or they feel blamed because they have chosen to embrace their biases. 

We all have biases, implicit or otherwise. The larger problem is that some of the most harmful biases are ingrained in the policies of our institutions. So it helps to think broadly about what must change. Tackle the big issues and the smaller issues start to fade. It is apparently what has happened in the gay and lesbian community. 

As more people came out, the idea became less foreign. More connections, or the “contact hypothesis” as psychologists have called it, led to greater acceptance and the shedding of biases. The same thing can happen in the workplace.

Meanwhile, here are five ways to systemically promote DEI in the workplace.

Examine Your Company Policies

When you created your company DEI policy, you may have reviewed other policies to ensure alignment. Go back and revisit those documents with a fresh eye. 

There may be bias embedded in these policies that you didn’t recognize. Or perhaps you need additional guidelines. For example, many diverse employees may be primary caregivers. Does your leave policy take this into account?

Promote Pay Equity

According to the HR Research survey, just 9% of companies say that equitable pay is a top priority for executives. The gender pay gap still exists in 94% of all occupations. During the pandemic, women were net losers, dropping out of the workforce in record numbers, exacerbating inequities that existed pre-COVID. There is no better time to refocus on pay equity.

Train Often

DEI training should never be considered complete. You don’t need to throw out your bias training. But remember the big picture. Focus on how inequities are built into systems. The goal is to raise the overall level of cultural sensitivity and reflect these values systemically. 

It helps if senior executives split their attendance among multiple sessions and offer kudos, both publicly and privately, to employees who are there. Offer refresher courses annually and reward participation so that everybody attends. 

Mix Things Up

Ensure that teams, workgroups and task forces are diverse. Bring lower-level employees into executive meetings when possible. Encourage groups to participate across functions and include upper management when it seems appropriate. 

Mixing things up can feel uncomfortable. But this is how new and different ideas emerge. Promote your best team leaders — those that ensure that all team members feel included and heard.

Facilitate Feedback

It’s essential to understand how diversity is working in your company. It’s also essential for diverse employees to receive feedback. 

Giving feedback is a difficult job for many managers. They may be especially reluctant to offer feedback to diverse employees. This means that diverse employees receive less mentoring and guidance and fewer opportunities to make course corrections and advance in the organization. 

Ensure that the feedback conversation is a two-way conversation. Train your managers as needed. 

Support Nonprofits

Align your philanthropic activities to support nonprofits that improve diverse communities. Remember that people like to work for companies that share their values. When you provide matching donations, as well, it democratizes the process so that every employee can have a voice. 

There are many benefits that accrue to businesses that figure out how to build a truly inclusive culture. With a proactive approach, your company can push your DEI initiative beyond the numbers and retain the diverse talent it attracts

If you need a better way to set up and manage your corporate giving program, Groundswell can help. We can get your program up and running fast, providing an excellent giving experience for your employees.

Giving Tuesday Donations: Best Practices and Ideas for Businesses

Giving Tuesday is fast approaching, so we wanted to give you great Giving Tuesday ideas. Now’s the time when nonprofits ask their patrons and donors to dig a little deeper to finish off the annual donations drive with a strong push.

Normally December is the month when donations peak. Giving Tuesday donations serve as a kickoff, establishing the momentum for this important month of generosity. 

Although the proceeds from Giving Tuesday benefit nonprofits, businesses play an important role. It’s a great opportunity to help the community and invest in causes that support the company’s values. Employees, too, will appreciate the chance to participate in meaningful ways.

What Is Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday rolls around every year on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, or perhaps, more appropriately, after Black Friday. But it’s not nearly as old. It was started in 2012 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City by soon-to-be-CEO Henry Timms and co-founded by the United Nations Foundation. 

Timms’s idea was to reverse the trend of heavy consumerism surrounding Black Friday and encourage everyone to give back. 

Sure, people like Bill Gates tweeted about it and helped to spread the word. But the idea was supercharged by families and small communities that embraced the idea and ran with it, asking themselves and their children what they stood for, and then donating and pitching in to help the causes they really cared about.

According to Timms’ interview with PBS, “We need to stop seeing people as donors and start seeing them as owners.” 

In the new paradigm that Timms envisioned, the role of the donor extends far beyond money. It also includes giving time, a voice and ideas to confront the problems in an increasingly interconnected world. 

What surprised and delighted Timms most was that, from the very beginning, the idea captured the hearts of people around the world who wanted to make the idea even better. Today, Giving Tuesday has become part of their traditions. 

Why Is It Important?

Giving Tuesday provides a boost to donations for the year, encouraging businesses and individuals to give in whatever ways suit them best. It’s a chance to raise more money than on an average day and serve to kick-start the year-end giving campaign. Those who want to take advantage of tax-deductible donations will be looking for opportunities to contribute. Further, Giving Tuesday donations leverage the generosity that has long been a tradition of the holiday season. 

Giving Tuesday can provide a boost to your brand. You can leverage the opportunity to let customers know about the good things your company does year-round. It’s well established that customers care about purchasing from companies that are charitable. 

And it’s not just about feeling good either. Recent research has discovered that people purchase from companies that demonstrate corporate social responsibility (CSR) because they believe that the company’s products and services are safer and of higher quality.

Giving Tuesday is also an opportunity to remind employees that they are part of a company that cares. Employees who work for companies with generous giving initiatives are likely to be happier and more engaged than employees who work for other companies.

How Companies Can Make a Difference When It Comes to Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is more than a once-a-year symbolic movement of generosity. It’s about individuals who ask what they can do and then act in powerful ways to help others. It’s about mobilizing communities so that they are empowered and self-advocating. But it’s also about companies, both large and small, doing what they can to support the communities they serve. Everybody and every organization can make a difference.

Companies with CSR initiatives are uniquely positioned to do more than individuals. CSR is all about companies taking a positive role in the community. In addition to considering the ethical and environmental impact of their operation and making sound fiduciary decisions, the most progressive companies are proactive in their philanthropic pursuits. That means making the world a better place. There are many ways to do this including donating to worthy causes and creating their own trusts.

Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to highlight your company’s ongoing activities such as volunteering, matching donations and other activities. Treat it as part of your overall corporate philanthropy strategy

Giving Tuesday Best Practices

Here are some best practices that companies have used to ensure that their Giving Tuesday event is successful. 

Set Your Values 

It’s important to have alignment between the company’s values and its decisions and actions. This is equally important with your philanthropic efforts. Revisit why charitable giving matters so that as you develop your strategies you develop a long-term plan.

Define Targets

Before you establish goals, you’ll need to think about the targets. Your Giving Tuesday initiative should have something in it for the community as well as for your customers and employees. For example, giving a portion of sales is a good way to include customers.

Inventory Your Resources 

There are always more needs than there are resources available to help. But just remember, Giving Tuesday goes beyond dollar donations. There is also employee time, goods and services, managerial talent, facilities and social media reach. 

Establish Goals 

Take stock of your resources and commit to specific and measurable goals. Edit and prioritize so that you can devote sufficient time to achieving the goals you set.  

Make a Plan 

Choose some ideas and decide how to implement them. Start planning early so that you have time to fine-tune the details. To support your efforts, ensure that your communication strategy is buttoned up. Include, for example, an email campaign, social media outreach and a robust webpage.

Establish Metrics 

Measure so that you will have benchmarks for your future efforts. In addition to the ROI, you will also want to know who benefited from your efforts and what to repeat or improve next year. Did you actually increase your overall giving?

Giving Tuesday Ideas

There are hundreds of Giving Tuesday ideas that your company can implement. Following are just a few suggestions on what you could include in your initiative.

  • Ask employees to nominate and select a long-term charity partner.
  • Create a Giving Tuesday hashtag and donate each time the hashtag is shared.
  • Match the proceeds of a fundraising event planned by employees.
  • Coordinate with other local businesses to host a charity auction.
  • Host a meet-and-greet for nonprofits with local businesses to extend their network.
  • Donate a portion of sales to a nonprofit group.
  • Give employees a charitable stipend to give to a nonprofit of their choice

Make It Easy

The best way to manage Giving Tuesday ideas and all your philanthropic initiatives is with a corporate giving platform. Groundswell can help with its frictionless setup and administration. We can have your program up and running in no time with minimal investment of your staff and resources. Contact us today.

6 Ways to Modernize Your Corporate Giving Program this Holiday Season

GivingTuesday is a global movement unleashing the power of people and organizations focused on transforming their communities and the world. In 2021, donations to global charities reached an incredible $2.7 billion from GivingTuesday, demonstrating how inspirational the movement has become.

Now more than ever employees want their values to align with their company’s values. 

In February 2022, Groundswell polled over a thousand executive-level leaders and employees working at Fortune 500 companies about how they perceive their corporate philanthropy. Sixty percent of employees said that if their company provided them with a stipend for charitable giving, it would lead to better alignment between the company’s values and its employees, inspiring more altruistic actions.

The problem is, today’s offerings for a corporate giving program are outdated and don’t fully recognize the unique perspectives and passions of each employee. Not to mention that the administrative burden of running a program can be a nightmare.

How can you modernize your corporate giving program?

Since 74% of Americans contribute to charities each year, employees have a high degree of respect for companies that offer an easy corporate giving program as an employee benefit.

If you want your company to be known as a leader of innovation in corporate philanthropy, here are six ways to encourage employees to make a big impact this GivingTuesday in a modern way:

1. Decentralize your corporate philanthropy.

Consider giving a percentage of your corporate grants straight to employees. Every employee is diverse – representing different cultures, backgrounds, religions, and lived experiences. The causes they are passionate about and the charities they want to support should reflect that diversity. Many employer-sponsored giving programs are restricted to a handful of “priority” cause areas or featured nonprofits chosen by company executives – preventing employees from giving to what they feel most connected to. Groundswell’s platform gives your employees the power to choose from over 1.5 million registered charities.

2. Make your giving program equitable and inclusive.

If you have an existing giving program, chances are it is neither equitable nor inclusive. It likely requires your employees to submit details about the donations they want to make to receive a company match. And perhaps employees are only limited to a certain category of charities. Groundswell turns the old model on its head by providing a modern donation experience that centers on your employees and empowers them to choose where they want to donate, with no additional steps to claim their match and no questions asked. They can be fully in control of the way they want to support the causes they care most about.

3. Jump-start the holiday giving spirit with a “gift to give.”

In addition to the existing matching or gifting program you may have, a special gift to kick off an end-of-year giving campaign can motivate and inspire employees to be equally generous. With Groundswell’s platform, you can pre-load funds into an employee’s giving account and they can choose where to donate on their own time.

4. Remove the red tape and year-end receipt gathering.

The sheer administrative burden of many corporate giving programs means that billions of dollars are left unclaimed. The simplicity of Groundswell is that employees do not have to send any follow-up paperwork to their employer after they click that “donate” button. And program administrators don’t have the burden of vetting charities or submitting matching donations. It’s a streamlined process – free of receipts or other paperwork – that gives your employees the confidence that they can have an impact on the causes they care most about at the end of the year.  

5. Spark shared social responsibility.

Since your employee base is your most valuable resource, empowering your team to donate through Groundswell can inspire a shared sense of social responsibility. Perhaps you have Veterans who can help shine a light on supporting mental health nonprofits that serve the veteran community; or, perhaps an employee from the Gulf Coast can share details of what it’s like to be impacted by a hurricane.

6. Provide inspiration to your employees on where they can give.

While many employees may know where they want to donate, it also helps to give them some additional inspiration – or introduce them to nonprofits they might not be aware of. Groundswell’s impact team works to research and vet amazing nonprofits that are working tirelessly across a diverse range of cause areas – found in the Spotlight area of the Groundswell app dashboard. If you want to see more ideas, check out our GivingTuesday toolkit that features additional inspiration on how to engage your employees in an end-of-year giving campaign.

Interested in modernizing your company’s giving program this year?

Groundswell can help you get a corporate giving program up and running in less than two weeks. Through Groundswell’s platform, you can pre-load funds from your company into a Personal Giving Account for employees before GivingTuesday.

10 Charitable Giving Ideas Based on Moments That Matter for Employees

If the business of HR is to manage — and enhance — the employee experience, an understanding of Moments That Matter (MTM) may be one of the most critical tools the HR professional can add to their repertoire. The HR world adopted the term from the customer relations department, which refers to the moments in a customer’s life when they are likely to make the decision to buy a product or service.

In HR, it refers to the moments in an employee’s life, both professional and private, that can most influence their feelings about their job and their employer. There are many ways to employ a Moments That Matter approach to employee management, but there’s one that’s often overlooked — incorporating it into the company’s corporate giving strategy. Here’s why you should, and some ideas of how your company can do it.

Moments That Matter — What It Is and Why It Matters

The idea behind the MTM management philosophy is that there are certain moments in your employees’ lives that have an outsize impact on their work satisfaction and attitude toward the company. Some of them are fairly generic — the job interview, their first weeks on the job, and promotions, for example. Others are more personal: an expectant parent, for instance, is likely to be influenced by how well — or poorly — HR helps them navigate the changes surrounding that milestone. Each of these experiences contributes to the overall employee experience with your company, and managing them well can play a big role in improving employee morale, job satisfaction, productivity, and retention

Which Moments Matter?

As suggested, the answer to that question can vary from employee to employee. There is, however, some agreement on the most common moments, and there are some suggestions for how to determine which moments actually matter the most to your employees. Gartner, Inc., an internationally respected HR consulting firm, lays out five types of moments that are likely to have the highest impact on employees in a recently published paper. They include moments that are:

  1. Emotion-generating: like personal anniversaries and life milestones.
  2. Scalable: have the potential to influence many employees.
  3. Frequent: happen many times over the course of a day, week or month.
  4. Business-aligned: moments that align with corporate strategy or culture.
  5. Critical talent-aligned: impact a specific population with critical talents in the organization.

Understanding which moments matter to your employees can help you create policies and procedures that acknowledge those moments and respond to them in the most positive and beneficial ways. In order to do this, it’s vital that you equip your HR department with the tools to identify important moments and respond to them with empathy and clear guidance.

Corporate Philanthropy and Moments That Matter

More and more research shows that employees care about working for a company that aligns with their values. They want to work for a company that makes them proud, one that takes corporate responsibility seriously (CSR) and that supports — or empowers them to support — the causes that matter to them. Many employees are motivated by a company’s commitment to give back and are engaged by corporate giving strategies like donation matching, group volunteer efforts and community giveback days.

When you incorporate MTM into your corporate giving strategy, you can exponentially increase the impact on both your employees and the causes they support. 

10 Moments That Matter-Inspired Charitable Giving Ideas 

If all of that explanation left you buzzing but still unsure how to combine it with your corporate giving strategy, here are 10 ways that you can use Moments That Matter to inspire, motivate and engage your employees.

1. Make Corporate Giving Part of Your Employee Benefits Package

The job interview is one of the first times your employee will have contact with the HR department. Use that moment to explain that corporate giving is part of your standard employee benefits package, and show them how you make it easier for them to support the causes that matter to them.

2. Celebrate Work Milestones With Charitable Donations

Instead of — or in addition to — recognizing work anniversaries or achievements with swag, offer a bonus donation to be made to the charity of their choice. If you’re using the Groundswell platform, it’s easy to simply add the appropriate amount to the employee’s giving account. You can even set it up as part of the policies that administer the program.

3. Use Data From Your Employee Donation Programs To Help Identify Moments That Matter

Many employee benefits management companies provide data and feedback to your company that can give you insight into what matters to your employees. Use that data to help identify giving trends and refine your program to make it more appealing.

4. Reward Team Milestones with a Giving Stipend

Sure, go ahead and have that pizza party for the team when QA checks off on their work, but why not give them something even more meaningful — add a little something to their charitable giving stipend. By giving them the power to support the causes they care about, you’re being doubly rewarding.

5. Recognize the Employee of the Month with the Opportunity to Make a Difference

It’s nice to get your picture in a place of honor when you’re voted Employee of the Month, but you can do better by giving your EOTM the chance to do more good. It’s easy to set up one-time additions to an employee’s giving fund based on their designation as a valued employee.

6. Give the Gift of Giving for Birthdays

Birthdays are a classic personal moment that matters — and many people celebrate by making a donation to charity. Even Facebook recognizes that — their Birthday Fundraiser feature is one of the platform’s most popular. Empower your employees to be more charitable on their birthdays by making a birthday donation part of their benefits package.

7. Mark Work Transitions with More Donating Power

Take the opportunity to recognize work transitions — the end of a probation period, a promotion to team leader, or moving to a new department — with a contribution to their giving fund. If the transition is a promotion or other permanent rise in the company structure, you can even make it a permanent increase in the company’s charitable giving program.

8. Celebrate Personal Milestones With a Contribution

There’s no better way to make employees feel valued than demonstrating that you notice — and care about — what’s happening in their lives. In addition to standard milestones, such as weddings or a new addition to the family, you can also celebrate their achievement of a new degree or certification, closing on a new house, or being recognized by a community organization.

9. Share the Celebration of Company Milestones

It’s common for businesses to mark milestones by making a donation to charity. Whether your company is celebrating Founder’s Day, recognizing their 1 millionth sale, or marking the awarding of a big contract, let your employees share in the festivities by making a contribution to their donor funds to distribute as they see fit. 

10. Extend Your Annual Holiday Bonus

Add a little something extra to your holiday bonus program — an extra contribution to their employee giving fund. Many employees celebrate holidays with a donation to their favorite charities anyway. Why not empower them to give a little more?

How Groundswell Helps You Meet Moments That Matter to All of Your Employees

The right software program can make it easy for you to match moments that matter to the unique interests and needs of all of your employees. Designing a corporate giving program can be challenging, with many factors to consider and incorporate.

Groundswell is designed to be inclusive, private, and empowering. By putting the power to give into the hands of each employee, the platform eliminates many barriers to giving that are inherent in traditional corporate match programs. 

  • Employees can donate on their own timeline, rather than during a specified giving period.
  • There are no complicated forms to fill out and have approved.
  • Charities get their donations all at once rather than having to wait for the matching part of the donation.
  • Employees can give to the causes they support without worrying that their donations will expose parts of their private lives they’d rather not reveal.  You can read more about how the Groundswell platform helps make employee giving more accessible and welcoming to everyone in the blog Is Your Donation Matching Program Inclusive and Equitable? Probably Not.
  • The simple interface makes it easy for your company to respond quickly to current events that have a wide cultural impact and provides a way for your company to be supportive to diverse groups among your employees.

Of course, your company can — and should — support your employees’ charitable efforts in other ways, as well. You can create moments that matter for your employees by, for example, sponsoring weekly, monthly, or annual team volunteer opportunities.

The time spent building out playgrounds, repairing homes for seniors, and serving meals at a local food kitchen all have the potential to be part of the reason your employees feel that they matter, not only to your company, but to the community at large.

Final Thoughts

Moments That Matter is more than just a current HR trend. It reflects a long tradition in the HR field — one of philanthropy and benefit focused on employees and their needs.

When your company recognizes the most impactful moments in the lives of its employees — and provides them with a way to recognize, celebrate and navigate them — you are strengthening the relationship between your employee, your company and the community. In short, everyone benefits. Learn how at Groundswell.

The Future of HR Leadership — Transforming Companies From the Inside

HR professionals are central to all employee-centered needs of a business. They are responsible for employee recruitment, training, engagement and management. They help ensure that all employees understand and follow company policies, potentially saving the business from landing in legal hot water. HR is the one department that touches every employee in multiple ways across their entire relationship with their employer — from the first face they meet in hiring interviews through conflict resolution, professional development and accessing their benefits, up to planning their exit and retirement from the company. 

When you consider all the responsibilities of the HR department, it’s hard to believe it could become even more central, but that’s the likely future of HR. In a world where the entire corporate structure — indeed, the very concept of what a corporation is and does — is rapidly evolving, the human resources department is taking on an increasingly central role in business management, and that’s likely to continue.

Before looking at the future of HR and what it holds for HR professionals, employers, employees and the corporate world as a whole, it’s important to take a look back at the origins of the modern human resources department.

The Evolution of the HR Department

Not that long ago, the idea of a department devoted solely to addressing the needs of employees was a foreign one. Until the late 19th to early 20th centuries, employees were seen as largely expendable. Employee management consisted mostly of payroll management. With few laws protecting workers, there was little reason to employ anyone other than bookkeepers to ensure that workers were paid as promised.

That all began to change with the Industrial Revolution, as leaders of the industry began to realize the importance of a healthy, happy workforce to business success. Robert Owen, a Scottish textile manufacturer, and Charles Babbage, a mechanical engineer, are generally credited with being the fathers of human resources by connecting worker treatment with worker productivity. 

Early Days: Employee Relations and Safety

Babbage and Owen’s theories coincided with a growing labor movement that demanded better, safer working conditions, often through costly — and sometimes violent — labor stoppages. The first personnel department — a precursor to the HR department — was created in reaction to a series of strikes and quality control issues at the National Cash Register Company. In 1901, owner John Henry Patterson concluded that “Enthusiasm is the biggest asset in business… Therefore, we have solved the labor problem…if we can infuse enthusiasm into all the various kinds of people who go to make up a working force. It is a give-and-take proposition of mutual benefit and mutual responsibility.” 

Following his conclusion, he set up a department to deal exclusively with employee relations. In addition to handling payroll, the new personnel department also handled employee complaints and disputes, maintained employee records and managed an impressive list of benefits designed to keep its employees content. 

While Patterson was a pioneer, other industry leaders were also learning the benefits of providing incentives for their workers: employee loyalty, reduced retention and training costs, higher morale and increased productivity. 

Mid-Century: Rules Compliance

In the 1930s, labor unions achieved a series of legislative victories that culminated in the creation of the National Labor Relations Board, which forced a shift in the focus of the personnel department to ensure that companies complied with new laws and regulations.

Where the early incarnations of HR management had focused on managing employee relations and benefits, the focus on rules compliance fundamentally changed the structure and role of the HR department. While the department was still responsible for the functions of personnel management, they now also had to contend with a growing raft of regulations encompassing worker safety, equal pay and discrimination in hiring, firing and disciplining workers. By the 1970s, the personnel department had evolved into the typical HR department, concerned with hiring, firing, training, disciplinary measures and benefits management. 

Late Century Evolution: HR as the Bad Guy

In the 1980s, the growing use of the office computer and the arrival of the HR information system (HRIS) revolutionized the HR department yet again. The new technology freed up hours of HR time by making personnel records easily and quickly accessible. By freeing HR professionals from the time-consuming task of keeping paper records, HRIS had the potential to empower the department to renew its focus on recruitment, training, retention and planning. Unfortunately, the 1980s also ushered in the era of downsizing, with many companies gutting their HR departments, and others pushing them into being the “bad guy,” delivering the news of layoffs and cost-cutting measures. Between their roles in compliance enforcement and discipline, HR acquired a reputation as the department with no sense of humor. 

HR Today: A Transformative Evolution

As companies outsourced many of the traditional HR functions to payroll and benefits management companies, business pundits began predicting the death of HR as a profession — but they were premature. Instead, the combination of better technology and changing attitudes toward workforce management have again turned HR toward its original principles — improving relations between management and the workforce. The adoption of HR platforms that allow employees to access and manage their own benefits has freed the HR department from its most tedious traditional tasks and returned the focus to attracting, training and retaining talent. 

The Future of HR: An Active Partner in Corporate Leadership

In the process, the corporate C-suite has begun to recognize the creativity and people skills of HR professionals. Over the past decade, the HR department has been moving out of its role as a buffer between management and labor and coming into its own as an active partner in planning and implementing future plans and policies. The upheaval of the pandemic accelerated the transformation by highlighting the vital role of HR in helping ease the sudden transition from office work to remote work. As companies continue to evolve and adjust to changes on the ground, executives will increasingly turn to HR professionals for their expertise and knowledge in the field of personnel management, recruitment and retention.

Today’s corporate culture is recognizing that employees are at the center of their company’s success. In order to remain competitive, they need to evolve to meet the needs and expectations of their employees. No one knows how to do this better than the HR department, which puts HR professionals in the perfect position to actively collaborate and lead corporate teams in redefining company purposes, goals and future strategies. After all, HR management is about empowering people to be the best they can be. It’s not a stretch to apply the same principles to inspiring entire companies to rise to the same level.

How Groundswell Supports Your HR Team

Groundswell recognizes the work, talent and creativity that goes into HR in the modern workplace. Our platform gives your HR department tools that take the time-consuming work out of administering your corporate giving program while providing a seamless way for each of your employees to support the causes that mean the most to them. 

Contact us to learn more about how Groundswell can support your company in attracting, incentivizing and retaining top talent by providing them with the means to do more good.

Modernizing Philanthropy in the Workplace: Why Investing in HR Technology Is Critical

When asked about the biggest challenges facing human resources professionals in 2022, HR exec Carla Yudhishthu noted something that’s a relatively new concept in human resources management: the importance of connecting employees to a bigger purpose at work. That “soft” HR skill, along with recruitment, retention and employee engagement, is separate from what used to be considered the core of HR work — managing the office, tracking employee data, and managing employee benefits and education. It is, however, becoming a larger and more important part of human resources, especially as people return to the office after a lengthy, enforced office timeout. 

In fact, that side of HR — what Yudhishthu refers to as the “art of HR” — has taken on increasing importance, but the need for the operational side of things hasn’t diminished. If your company is still relying on HR workers to essentially do data entry and management, it’s time to look at how modern HR technology supports your entire workforce while freeing your HR department to focus on the things that really motivate and engage your employees.

What Motivates Your Workforce? (It’s Not What You Think It Is)

Common wisdom suggests that employees are motivated by better pay, higher benefits and workplace recognition and rewards. While all of those elements are important, recent research has found that the most engaged employees share some common experiences and attitudes.

1. They work for companies that provide a smooth employee experience

The easier it is for someone to do their work, the more likely they are to be satisfied with their job. Businesses with engaged employees provide them with the tools they need, not only to do their jobs, but to manage their lives in balance with their work. That includes HR software that puts the information they need at their fingertips, both figuratively and literally. 

Modern HR technology features apps that allow employees to access and track their own data, so they can see at a glance how many vacation days they have, how much sick time they’ve earned, and more. They also make it easy and intuitive for workers to submit requests for time off or schedule changes, and to see the progress of their request without having to visit the HR office. 

By removing friction from basic functions, good HR technology improves the employee experience and increases employee satisfaction. At the same time, it reduces the amount of time your HR department has to spend on routine tasks that can be automated.

2. They find purpose in their work

A recent McKinsey study found that 70% of the employees they surveyed want work that is meaningful — that fulfills a purpose. The top recommendation from that study was for corporations to identify and consider their impact on the world around them, and work to align their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies with the values that are important to their employees. People who work for companies that empower them to make changes in the world around them are more likely to stay in their jobs and to recommend their company to others.

HR software that helps manage and track CSR and giving can provide a visual reminder of individual and company purpose.  

3. Their jobs offer meaningful benefits

While the traditional work benefits — health insurance, paid time off and other typical work perks — are still an important draw, employees also want perks that recognize them as whole people. This includes corporate giving programs of all types, from workplace volunteer opportunities to donation match programs. Employees who work for companies that empower and support them in giving back to the community feel a stronger sense of loyalty to their employer.

HR technology allows employees to manage their own work-life balance, as well as discover and access benefits provided by the company. The combination leads to more job satisfaction, more transparent company culture and improved well-being across the company.

4. They have some flexibility and autonomy in their work

Autonomy and flexibility give workers a sense of control and ownership over their contributions to the company and its purpose. Over the past few years of working from home, many employees have found that they’re more productive and engaged when they’re allowed to make some decisions about when, where and how to approach their work. 

At the same time, it’s important to maintain good communication and set clear expectations. A structured HR interface, along with clear company-wide messaging, can provide a framework that allows employees to make decisions that fit with the overall goals and needs of the entire company.

5. They want to work for a company that shares their values

One of the most effective ways for a business to align their values with their people is through creating a corporate culture that values transparency, social responsibility and participation. A workplace giving portal does more than provide an easy way for employees to participate in charitable giving. It can also provide a wealth of data to help the HR department:

    • Track trends in giving
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of the company’s corporate giving strategies
    • Demonstrate the company’s commitment to its values
    • Empower employees to support the causes important to them
    • Give leadership the information it needs to see if the current programs align with employee values

The Bottom Line

The right HR technology provides the tools, information and structure your company needs to attract, motivate and retain top talent in your field. Not only does it empower your workforce and provide them with transparency, it also frees up your HR professionals to use their creativity and knowledge to improve the workplace.

For more tips on building strong leadership and employees, check out our blog.

Building Stellar Workplace Leaders: 7 Tips To Be a Good Manager

The best companies have one thing in common: good leadership. Leadership can make or break a company. All leaders aren’t managers. There are, for example, informal leaders who may have no official title or claim to direct others. So while all leaders aren’t managers, in the most exceptional companies, all managers are leaders.

The traditional view of management is confined to the basic functions of planning, organizing, directing, staffing, and controlling. That may fit neatly into the comfort zone for some people, but it doesn’t fit the way businesses operate today. As the competitive environment changes and the old work rules are discarded, the role of manager is becoming a lot more flexible.

When you’re managing people in a rapidly changing and fluid world, you need more skills than ever. It’s no longer sufficient, if it ever was, to simply be the smartest person in the room. As mentioned, the best managers are great leaders. This means they have both the hard and the soft skills to get the best from their people. 

Much has been written about leadership styles. But perhaps more important than any particular style are the things that great managers do every day. 

What Does Good Management Look Like in Practice?

If you want to know how to be a good manager, follow these seven essential tips every day:

Manage Up

New paradigms for leadership largely turn the top-down model on its head. Good managers aren’t simply following instructions received from on high. When you cultivate good relationships with your own managers, you’ll better understand the pressures and motivations behind their decisions. When the relationship is good, managers can even offer respectful feedback. In turn, your managers can learn how to best advocate for your success. 

Invest in the Next-Generation Leaders

As a manager in the current environment, you don’t have time to micromanage. You must manage to meet goals and objectives. This allows others to learn valuable skills and flex their problem-solving and leadership muscle. More importantly, you have the responsibility of creating new leaders. As a strong manager, you can rely on the people around you because you have taught them well and delegated tasks to them.

Favor Innovation Over Rinse-and-Repeat

A few decades ago, managers were focused on efficiency and productivity. This meant processes that were reliable and repeatable. Make no mistake, businesses still need a high level of efficiency. However, the companies with the most sustainable business models for the future are those that take risks. They aren’t afraid to try something new. It’s not strictly about technology. Rather, it’s about empowering people to discover the possibilities. If you aren’t innovating, you can be assured that some scrappy new startup is finding a way to do what you do, only better. 

Manage From the Inside Out

You can’t manage from outside the team. The best managers aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. This isn’t simply an improved version of managing by walking around. It’s managing by getting involved. Managers who master this skill have the opportunity to identify strengths and weaknesses in their team and to better understand their pain points. In order to do it most effectively, however, you must walk a fine line between being a team player and taking over. As a manager, it’s your job to provide the “what,” for example, the deliverables. To the extent possible, avoid telling people “how” to do their jobs. 

Share Knowledge

The rapidly changing business environment means that yesterday’s education and skills quickly become obsolete. You don’t have to be an expert in every new technology or management philosophy that crops up. But you do need to understand the extent of change. When you are busy with job responsibilities and home life, it can seem impossible. Fortunately, you never need to step into a bookstore, library or classroom to learn something new. Take time out of your busy schedule to read, take an online course, follow a blog, or have lunch with a colleague in your industry or another. Then share the information you collect and teach others what you know. 

Encourage Team Problem-Solving

Encourage problem-solving among your employees. It removes the pressure from you to always be the fixer. Further, it builds a critical skill that will make your company more profitable in the long run. Solicit ideas, ask for input and encourage team members to share. This has the additional benefit of helping employees think more holistically about where the business is headed and what the future challenges might be. Remember that if your team isn’t making any mistakes, they may be playing it too safe. 

Pursue the Greater Good

Good managers are selfless. Certainly, they want what is best for their employees, customers, partners, and the company. But the concept of the greater good extends even further. Good managers understand that their actions have consequences for the community and the world. They work to ensure that they do no harm. 

What Are the Benefits of Strong Management?

When a company has strong managers, it benefits in many ways. 

Attracts and Retains Better Talent

Word gets around when a company is well-managed. Managers that invest in their professional growth mentor others around them and have no trouble attracting good employee candidates, while also being able to retain current employees.

Sustains Growth Into the Future

Employees are more engaged with good management. They’re better able to ensure that the company is positioned for long-term growth and able to outperform the competition.

Builds Credibility for the Brand

A strong managerial base provides stability for the company. It fortifies the values and builds products and services that promote the brand and enhance the company’s reputation.

Becomes a Better Corporate Citizen

Managers create an environment where all employees think beyond the walls of the company toward the partnerships they have created, the customers they serve and the broader business community. Corporate giving programs, for example, are one of the ways to practice good corporate citizenship.

One way to include charitable giving as a corporate value is with a charitable giving program. You can match employee contributions or support employee volunteer efforts. Groundswell automates charitable giving and makes it an easily administered part of your employee benefits package

Good Management Means Change

Management has evolved. The requirements for how to be a good manager have less to do with control and more to do with how well managers can inspire others to perform at the highest levels. These managers are adept at handling a diversity of ideas, opinions and approaches to getting the work done. They freely share their knowledge and help others to be the best version of themselves. These are the managers that will sustain the best companies in the future.

If you’re interested in a corporate giving program that will capture the hearts of your employees, Groundswell is the way to go. We make corporate giving easy. Find out how you can get a leg up on the Talent War. Contact us for more information.

Want to Make Giving a Habit in the Office? Here’s How.

Here’s some good news, for a change: In recent years, Americans have shown a stronger and stronger desire to donate to charity. This is especially true for younger givers. Nearly 61% of Gen Z and 48% of Millennials say they plan to give more than they have in the preceding three years. Overall, 31% of people say they plan to increase their giving.

And in 2020 – a tough year – Americans gave $471 billion to charitable organizations. In short, the giving instinct is alive and well. And companies can encourage this in the workplace.

But here’s the challenge: Most companies’ go-to strategy for driving workplace giving is the corporate matching program. There’s nothing wrong with matching programs. On paper, they’re great – 84% of professionals say they are more inclined to donate if a match is available. The problem? The logistics around company matching can be a huge pain in the ass – involving Excel sheets, legacy software, and other inefficiencies. This is a major blocker because people want to enjoy giving.

We give because it’s the right thing to do. But we aren’t emotionless altruism machines. We also like to give because it makes us feel good. We want the buzz, the warmth, the excitement of giving.

This is what the current matching solutions lack. Delays and administrative processes get in the way of feeling. Read on to find out how company giving can be revamped – by using Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) to match employee contributions before they give to charity, not after the fact.

The Problem: Philanthropy Without the Buzz

The concept of corporate matching is a fantastic idea; businesses match their employees’ charitable contributions to nonprofit organizations with cash contributions of their own. Employees get to double their impact and companies get credit for supporting organizations in the community.

This impact-doubling method has enormous potential over the next few years. Evidence from Deloitte shows that 37% of employees will participate in philanthropic activities, motivated by the opportunity to make a difference with causes close to their hearts – such as hunger, homelessness, education, and social and racial equality. The prospect of doubling their impact is exciting .

However, the problems start with how matching happens. With current matching programs, the actual matching happens in one of two ways:

Scenario #1:

Someone at the company – usually an overworked person in HR or finance – tracks everything in a giant Excel sheet, verifies each request one by one, and manually cuts checks to qualifying charities. The fun of giving stops and additional work becomes a tedious task. Employees miss out on the buzz and excitement of giving, as the whole thing just feels like paperwork (and nobody likes additional paperwork).

Scenario #2:

The company uses a legacy software platform that is meant to streamline the matching program – however, the platform is getting dustier by the day, and is often a blocker. Employees have to find the portal, login, get a password reminder, go through the right steps. Then they make their contribution – say $100 – and have to trust that somehow someone somewhere is going to chip in the other $100. As a result, the energy is sapped out of the giving process. The thrill of giving is diminished and the whole process will be bland: no rush, no emotional boost, just dead morale.

The Solution: Match Donations Up Front

“Groundswell makes donation easy. Creating small habits that add up over time, in the same way you would for a 401k – I think that’s going to be a game changer. It should really be like, let’s democratize that, and really listen to and trust our employees to be making good decisions.”

Layla Kajer, Director of Internal Communications & Community, Greenhouse

Imagine if this is how 401(k) programs worked: An employee buys a particular company’s stock within their 401(k). They then have to go to their benefits team, show them their purchase confirmation, and ask them to buy the same stock and deposit it into their account.

This would be absurd! And yet it’s effectively how corporate matching currently takes place.

This is why, at Groundswell, we are allowing companies to leverage DAFs in their matching programs. 88% of HR executives say that corporate giving, along with other effective employee engagement programs, has a positive impact on their employee acquisition and retention. The way to maximize this impact is to make corporate matching as immediate, exciting, and animating as possible.

How to do this? By structuring corporate matching around donor advised funds. At Groundswell, we allow companies to place matching contributions into a DAF that employees then direct themselves. This way, when an employee makes the decision to give to a charity, they are making a donation that’s immediately twice as big.

No delays, no hassle. Just double the impact, right then and there. This way, matched giving comes with the excitement and buzz that it should.

Contact Groundswell today and start reinventing individual and corporate giving.