CISL drives employee engagement

Engagement is defined as an employee’s positive or negative emotional attachment to a job, to colleagues and to an organisation. Being fully engaged at work profoundly influences an employee’s willingness to learn and perform – and has real impact on a company’s bottom line. So, it is no surprise that companies are interested in finding ways to increase employee engagement, and Corporate International Service Learning (CISL) programmes provide a powerful way of doing this, as research from our 2019 CISL Impact Benchmark Study illustrates.


The Study shows that when employees participate in a CISL experience, they feel connected with strong loyalty and pride in the company, they build stronger relationships with colleagues, to better understand the corporate Purpose and stay with the company longer.

The most relevant elements of employee engagement that could be associated with a CISL programmes have been identified. As part of the Study, participants were asked to rate how they felt their attitudes and behaviour had changed because of their experience. The results showed that employee engagement increased significantly as a result of CISL experiences.

While the data provides profound insights and learnings, the CISL Study goes further to identify factors that help strengthen programme outcomes by analysing the data against a range of design variables. Through this analysis we know that the top 3 impact levers for employee engagement are:

• Senior leader championing
• Support upon return
• Partner need for Skills



Senior Leadership Championing Impacts Employee Engagement
When senior leaders actively champion and support CISL programmes, there is a higher level of employee engagement. The data below shows us that when a programme is championed by senior leadership, there is greater impact on employee engagement measures:

The data looks at participants that either agreed and strongly agreed versus disagreed and strongly disagreed that their programme was championed by Senior Leadership. These two sets of data were subsequently measured against the five employee engagement measures.

Support upon return Impacts Employee Engagement
The data also suggested that participants who felt supported on their return to work become more engaged employees. The chart below illustrates that when learning objectives are set there is greater impact on depth of learning. This is particularly strong for participants who agreed that changes in their behaviour had been observed by others and those who made a positive business impact on their organisation:

The data looks at participants that either agreed and strongly agreed versus disagreed and strongly disagreed that they set learning objectives prior to their assignment. These two sets of data were subsequently evaluated against five of the depth of learning measures.

Partner need for skills impacts employee engagement
Addressing societal needs in the markets where organisations do business is one of the three pillars of CISL. When partners have a real need for the skills and expertise of programme participants, it can create a greater learning experience, but it can also impact employee engagement because helping real people, solve real-life issues provides employees with a purpose. The chart below illustrates the significant impact that meeting partner needs has on employee engagement:

The data looks at participants that either agreed and strongly agreed or disagreed and strongly disagreed that their partner had a real need for their skills and expertise. These sets of data were then measured against the employee engagement measures.

It doesn’t stop there.

This blog focuses on senior leadership, support upon return and meeting partner needs. However, creating an impact on employee engagement is not exclusive to these design variables. We also see significant differences across other programme variables. In fact, employee engagement is impacted at varying degrees by all but one of the programme design variables. To learn more you can download the 2019 CISL Impact Benchmark study here.

 Download the 2019 CISL Impact Benchmark Study