The article is the result of a collaborative inquiry begun by our Good Things Initiative team leaders Andrei Hedstrom and Brooking Gatewood. Together we have worked to integrate a meaning of work aspect into our training designs where-ever possible. Read on to find out why we are so excited about this win-win training solution!
Today in the U.S., people are expressing their concern and caring about the planet and about corporate citizenship. They want their work to have purpose and meaning, and they want to work in organizations that are purpose-driven and that value sustainability. According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, 20 percent of Fortune 500 companies will become mission-driven companies. Many businesses are going back to their roots. They are no longer solely focused on making a profit. Instead, they are focusing more on how to use their organizational resources, skills, and power to give back to the community.
Employees Demand Meaningful Work
One of the key drivers of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities is employee demand. Employees want meaningful jobs. This is especially true for Millennials. Companies that provide meaningful work have loyal employees. Their employees are also more engaged in their work. Of employees who are satisfied with their employer’s CSR activities, 86 percent have high levels of engagement (Sirota, 2007).
A 2011 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study notes these top benefits of CSR:
- Improved employee morale
- More efficient business processes
- Stronger public image
- Increased employee loyalty
- Increased brand recognition
In that same study, 49 percent of company leaders said CSR was very important for attracting top talent, and 40 percent said the same for employee retention. As more Millennials enter the workforce, these numbers are only going to increase.
Given how important CSR is for employee engagement, and how valuable engaged employees are for the bottom line, it’s quite surprising that companies are not communicating to their own employees about all the Good Things they’re doing! A 2010 PSR branding survey indicated that more than half of employees did not know whether or not their company had CSR practices! This gap between employee engagement and CSR can be bridged with good training.
Emotional Connection is a Win-Win For Companies and Their Employees
At SweetRush, we’re excited about this trend. Bringing CSR and meaningful work into our training programs is a win-win opportunity. From the learning and training perspective, learners who are emotionally connected to content learn and retain more. An emotional connection makes learning “stick,” and awareness about a company’s sustainability, responsibility, and citizenship creates positive emotions in employees. Incorporating this awareness into training helps to emotionally engage employees in the learning experience and, more broadly, in their job. Believing that their work supports the greater good is also good for employee morale.
How to Integrate “The Meaning of Work” into Training
SweetRush strives to make an emotional connection with every training program we design. Part of the SweetRush methodology is a values-based approach to instructional design: We identify meaning and purpose that can help learners connect with their work and the learning experience. SweetRush integrates the “meaning of the work” aspect into our training projects whenever possible. Some areas we address include:
- How do the organization’s products or services provide benefit to people, the environment, or the community?
- How is the organization involved in corporate social responsibility initiatives, such as safety, environmental resources, and local community issues?
- How can the content of the training help the employee contribute to the greater good?
Whether they are developing e-learning, instructor-led, or virtual training programs, SweetRush instructional designers and project managers collaborate with our clients to bring CSR to life within our courses. Are you ready to take this step with us?
Catherine Davis is SweetRush’s Instructional Design Practice Lead. You can read more strategies and tips from Catherine in her free eBook: How to be an Instructional Design Rock Star: Learn the ropes from a corporate training veteran and supercharge your career!