Community Engagement is a growing initiative for many teams as they grow their workplace culture. In fact, many organizations are looking to develop stronger strategies under the leadership of a Director of Community Engagement.
But what is community engagement and how does it help your organization? Should your company begin investing in its community engagement leadership?
Let’s dive in!
How Community Engagement Impacts Workplace Culture
Community engagement is when all stakeholders work collaboratively to create solutions and impact change for the future. This is everything from political needs to environmental support, to labor resources, and more.
You’ll often see roles for Community Engagement managers or directors at universities, nonprofits, or healthcare institutions to support all stakeholders, from the workers to the patients or students.
In the same way, many workplaces increasingly see the value in community engagement to nurture their company’s culture, from their workers, customers, and beyond.
Community engagement stems from the need for stronger employee experience, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs. All of which helps organizations support their people, their bottom line, and their workplace culture.
“An organization’s culture is the personality, goals, the vision, the background of everyone that’s involved. Culture is the fabric of an organization and ensuring all are comfortable,” said Kim Shamley in a recent episode of Cooleaf’s The Great Retention podcast.
The Vice President of People & Culture at Soles4Souls spoke about how her remote-team culture continues to put their people first as a global non-profit turning shoes and clothing into opportunity.
“People are bringing themselves to the organization without hesitancy,” Kim said. “How we portray that and ask that of our employs to tie into the mission and vision strategy we have.”
Like Soles4Soles, many organizations are using their guiding values and mission not only to tie back to how they do business but what they do to support their people and positive change.
We’re now seeing organizations donate time, energy, and funds towards CSR and DEI programs, along with community outreach and messaging.
Top execs agree that investing in their work culture matters. According to Forbes, 50 percent see it impact productivity, core values, and growth.
So, how will a Director of Community Engagement help your organization make an impact and nurture workplace culture?
Here are 10 reasons why you need a Director of Community Engagement this year.
1. Its an Investment in Employee Empowerment
Not only does community engagement help your organization support local community groups, but it provides the tools for your employees to feel empowered.
Promoting community engagement at work helps your people align themselves with your organization’s mission. Approximately 70% of employees look at their work to define their purpose, and community engagement gives people a meaningful way to participate in their organization.
Your Community Engagement Director will work cross-functionally to provide civic engagement activities and events that matter to you.
2. Boosts Employee Retention
Working alongside community partners either in person with hands-on help or through monetary funds is a great way to make your people feel more involved in doing good. This community outreach helps retention and attract prospective talent too.
In fact, millennials are 70% more likely to be loyal to companies with a strong commitment to CSR. An increasing number of Gen Z workers are also eager to work for companies making a positive social impact.
“Authentically leaning into a cause is one proven way to attract like-minded employees who can bring their whole selves to work," Michele Egan, previous Vice President at National Cause marketing agency, For Momentum, said in a recent chat with Cooleaf. "This human-centric approach is not necessarily new, but is definitely on the rise."
3. Engages Remote Teams
A Community Engagement Director will cultivate a strong community engagement strategy that gets everyone in your remote team involved.
One of our favorite examples comes from Cooleaf partner, Shipt. For Pride month, Shipt encouraged teammates in their remote offices to take part in a hands-on volunteer day for Magic City Acceptance Center and QueerLifeSpace, both of which are run by and serve members of the LGBTQ+ community.
With their team in a few different locations, employees could come together with those nearest to them to volunteer as a group. Everyone shared photos and stories of their volunteer day on the Cooleaf app.
4. Increases Profits
Conscious consumerism is growing. In fact, 67% of customers opt to purchase from purpose-driven organizations. Seeing corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives like global giving, sustainability, or community outreach helps customers feel better about putting money down on a product or service.
A Community Engagement Director will help you develop strong outreach programs to support local community organizations or nonprofits that meet your CSR goals and support marketing efforts.
5. Strengthens Local Partnerships
Working with local community groups is a great way to support your neighbors, community needs, and the local economy.
A Community Engagement Director will help you foster the relationships around your area and work with your local government or city staff. Listen to their needs to see how you can help with specific solutions, like providing resources to end homelessness or working with schools to create mentor programs for students.
Building partnerships will expand your impact and show that you value philanthropy.
6. Builds a Communicative Work Environment
Effective local engagement requires community members and stakeholders to speak up and get involved in the decision-making process. This is where your Director of Community Engagement comes in.
By proctoring meetings with members of the community, your Director of Community Engagement will help build trust and show your employees how your organization uses its influence to support a good cause.
One great example is Cox Enterprise in Atlanta. This organization works with community groups like The League of United Latin American Citizens. Cox provides hands-on support at a local and national level, along with working with their Latin American employee resource group (ERG).
Where is HR headed, this year and beyond? Download Cooleaf's official trend report to learn more.
7. Expands Your Mission’s Reach
A Director of Community Engagement will keep you accountable toward your core values or mission. Think sustainability, nonprofit investment, and supporting local or niche community groups.
For instance, many organizations set goals towards their DEI, such as hiring initiatives, community building and hands-on support, and employee development.
An eco-friendly workplace might be to set goals around reducing waste or working with B Corps to reduce environmental impact.
No matter what your goal is, your Community Engagement leader will help create a plan of action, find partners, and track and share metrics of your team’s progress.
8. Gives People Ownership of Their Impact
Inviting employees to take part in the community engagement process encourages them to have a voice and take ownership of the next steps. It also encourages your people to bring their own ideas or advocacy to causes your organization should support.
Your Director of Community Engagement can help take those ideas or concerns and bring them into action by reaching out to local community leaders or activating CSR programs.
Being part of a process from start to finish helps instill a sense of purpose in individuals on your team. It also helps people develop the skills and confidence you need them to bring into the workplace.
9. Transforms Your Customer Experience
Positive social impact is not only good for business because of conscious consumerism, but it helps your organization keep a pulse on the communities you’re seeking to help.
By taking part in local projects and supporting diverse groups, your team is inherently learning and engaging with diverse perspectives and potential customers.
10. Nurtures and Supports Your ERG Goals
Employee resource groups (ERG) are communities too. They’re communities in your organization that represent diverse voices in order to create change at your workplace and beyond.
For instance, Employees with Disabilities might have an ERG where they work together to highlight accessibility needs in the community. Meanwhile, a Women in Tech ERG might want to start a mentorship program for young female students.
These two ERGs have different goals, so a Director of Community Engagement will help guide both groups by offering suggestions and necessary resources, empowering ERGs to achieve both ends.
Are you committed to foster DEI? Download our free calendar to keep important dates top of mind!
Time to Re-evaluate Your Community Engagement Strategy
Strong community engagement sets your organization apart from retaining to attracting talent while nurturing your team culture.
Successful community engagement initiatives may impact your bottom line, but more importantly, they help you and your people do good in your area. And that’s always a win.
For organizations committed to success, community engagement is key. Are you ready to engage your people? Our experts are here to help!