Affirming employees’ good deeds drives retention and program ROI


It pays off to build a positive social impact culture

Celebrate the good from within your workforce

Most high-growth companies sponsor community engagement programs to do good in their communities and engage employees. But not all programs work as planned. Why? Frequently it’s because the programs celebrate corporate good from the top down, focusing on their own corporate impact but failing to adequately recognize and affirm the good their own employees are doing both inside and outside of the workplace.

Most community engagement programs have the best intentions. But a bit more research and insight into the employee mindset could give these programs a massive edge. Companies that take the time to understand and celebrate their employees will reap the benefits of a more productive and happy workforce.

Get the most ROI from your philanthropic tools and software

Many companies are investing heavily in staff, software, and consultants to help build, feed, and water their employee community engagement programs. A growing number of companies are also beefing up their evaluation and impact outcomes efforts. Dozens of SaaS companies offer solutions intended to support employee engagement, whether through corporate wellness programs, matching gifts administration, corporate giving, volunteering, or all of the above. The sector is hot! Money is pouring into these tools and systems. So does the return on investment justify the expense?

We’ve heard stories from clients who bought software-based employee engagement and tracking systems and now are trying to justify the renewal fees. Are they utilizing the software to its fullest? Has the platform delivered a positive experience so far? Is it worth the onboarding time and effort? Is it working to increase retention and recruiting success? Are employees more engaged? The answers always lie with the company itself. Are companies fully understanding their own employees’ mindset and affirming the good that is already happening? That is the question that must be answered before ROI can be fairly evaluated. The really fascinating part is that just asking the question in the first place is valuable to increase usage, participation, and engagement. That’s because employees are more likely to embrace corporate-led systems and initiatives when they believe the company cares and validates what’s on their minds, especially as it relates to prosocial behaviors.

Unlock the secret sauce for your corporate employee engagement program

What this means is that companies that celebrate *all* the good happening with each individual employee--whether that’s taking care of their own wellness or sharing a meal with a sick neighbor or any of the other social impact behaviors that make up today’s cultural footprint--are more likely to keep that employee engaged and happy.

Response to expressions of affirmation is a fundamentally important human reaction. Affirmation in any form opens a powerful channel to connecting with someone on an emotional and intellectual level. Affirmation of prosocial behaviors is an even more powerful cocktail to building an emotional connection. That’s why it’s so important to unlock this secret sauce in corporate employee engagement programs.  

It's well-documented that today's social impact workforce wants to join companies that do good. Company leaders who take this concept to the next level by turning the "doing good mirror” back onto their employees will benefit from a competitive edge in employee retention, recruiting, and productivity.




Ann-Marie is an executive and national speaker on technology and today’s work-life-community-wellness mindset. In 1998 Ann-Marie founded Embolden, a leading digital communications and marketing firm specializing in high-growth sectors, such as financial services, philanthropy, and health care. Ann-Marie was named the 2009 Rhode Island Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. In recognition of its progressive work culture, Embolden is a three-time winner of the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility. This distinction ranked Embolden in the top 20% of employers nationally in terms of flexible work programs, policies, and culture. In 2008, YWCA Northern Rhode Island honored Ann-Marie with a Women of Achievement Award, given to business leaders and advocates who work for the economic empowerment of women. That same year, Embolden received the State of Rhode Island Minority Business Enterprise of the Year Award. The Providence Business News named Ann-Marie a Woman to Watch in the technical services industry in 2010. In 2011, it named Embolden one of the state’s best places to work.