This article was updated on July 17, 2018.

Charitable workplace initiatives aren't just about giving back to the community; they should also be about engaging your workforce and helping them derive greater meaning from their work. Although many employers sponsor charitable initiatives, these programs aren't always tailored to the interests of their employees. As a result, they may not fully inspire your workforce and therefore have little impact on employee engagement.

Working to align your charitable initiatives with your employees' interests may be more important now than ever. Today's workers, particularly millennials, are seeking to find meaning in their work and not just a paycheck. One of the most widespread trends in the global workforce today is the movement toward people choosing to spend their time working on projects that are of personal interest to them or have a broader impact on society, according to the ADP Research Institute® study, The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workforce.

According the Evolution of Work report, this trend is almost universally met with excitement: 81 percent of global workers surveyed view this trend with positive emotion. People want to work for organizations that set goals that are engineered to sync up with their desire for a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in their lives.

Your organization's charitable initiatives can be an ideal area to both help employees achieve the meaning they're looking for and drive their continued loyalty and engagement.

Start By Communicating

Even if you've had charitable workplace initiatives in place for a long time, your employees may not feel strongly about the causes you support, keeping your organization from experiencing all the possible benefits of giving back. You should start by surveying your employees to see which charities or causes they are interested in supporting. Are there specific common needs within your own organization? Are there certain charities and causes that truly resonate with your employees or their families? By communicating with employees about the organization's desire to make an impact on the greater community, you can harness this excitement and build employee loyalty.

Keep in mind that your organization doesn't have to support the same charities every year. If, for example, an employee is battling cancer this year, your team may choose to raise money for a cancer foundation or host a health clinic to offer services to low-income individuals. Next year, you could fundraise for a local school system that is facing budget cuts. What's most critical is that your employees engage with whichever initiative you choose and feel that their vision for community initiatives is understood by the C-suite.

Maximize Your Charitable Programs

While charitable involvement is valuable for its own sake, such initiatives can also yield positive workplace results. Many organizations now offer their employees paid time off to volunteer at charitable events or groups of their choice. If your employees are interested in volunteering, such a policy may be viewed as a valuable perk and an important tool for recruitment and retention.

Giving each employee time to volunteer individually can be important, but organizations can also yield great results by facilitating group initiatives that team members can participate in together. Managers and department leaders throughout your organization likely look for opportunities to strengthen their teams, so why not use charitable initiatives as team-building opportunities? For instance, the ADP Foundation offers "a grant program that enables ADP associates a team-building opportunity to assist any U.S. Habitat chapter and up to five International chapters." These workers are not only giving back to their community, but they are also working side-by-side with their colleagues as a team, forming lasting bonds as they accomplish something meaningful together.

If your organization takes the time to communicate with employees about their charitable interests and carefully understand why they want to get involved, charitable workplace initiatives can serve to help your community, build your team and keep employees engaged and inspired by their work.

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