Engagement is defined as an employee's positive or negative emotional attachment to a job, to colleagues and to an organization. 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. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workforce “Engaged employees make it a point to show up to work and do more work” (http://news.gallup.com/reports/199961/7.aspx, 2016) and the report shows that highly engaged business units benefit from:
- 41% reduction in absenteeism
- 17% increase in productivity
- Engaged workers that are more likely to stay with their employer
- 10% increase in customer metrics
- 20% increase in sales
With data like this, 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 2017 CISL Impact Benchmark Study shows.
The 2017 CISL Impact Benchmark Study on the long-term impact of CISL programmes surveyed programme participants from six global companies including BD, Credit Suisse, EY, Merck and Microsoft. The 688 participants surveyed had all completed a CISL assignment 12 months prior to taking part in the Study and showed positive impact in a wide variety of areas including breadth and depth of learning, career mobility, responsible leadership behaviour and employee engagement.
The Study identified the most relevant elements of employee engagement that could be associated with a CISL programme. As part of the Study, participants were asked to rate how they felt their attitudes and behaviour had changed because of their CISL experience against 5 key measures of employee engagement using a 5 point Likert (fixed anchor) scale of Strongly disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree and Strongly Agree.
The results showed that employee engagement increased significantly as a result of CISL experiences as the table below illustrates. One of the most outstanding result is the 51% of participants that strongly agreed their CISL assignment increased pride in their organisation. However, the fact that 78% of respondents felt motivated to contribute more than was required for their role perhaps gives a better indication of immediate ROI.
Senior Leadership Championing Impacts Employee Engagement
When senior leaders actively champion and support CISL programmes, there is a higher level of employee engagement. The 2017 CISL Impact Benchmark Study data supports this statement and the chart below illustrates just how much difference senior leadership championing can make to employee engagement.
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. The data shows us that across all engagement measures, where a program is championed by Senior Leadership there is greater impact on employee engagement. This is particularly strong for participants who strongly agreed that they had increased loyalty to their organisation (59%) and those who are inspired to contribute more for their role (45%).
Meeting Partner Needs 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. The chart shows us that across all engagement measures, where there was a real partner need for skills the employee engagement impact is far greater. This is particularly strong for participants who strongly agreed that they had increased pride to their organisation (55%) and again those who are inspired to contribute more for their role (41%).
It doesn’t stop there…
Whilst this blog has focused on senior leadership and meeting partner needs, creating an impact on employee engagement is not exclusive to these design variables. We also see significant differences across other programme variables, such as setting learning objectives and providing support up on return. In fact, employee engagement is impacted at varying degrees by all but one of the programme design variables.
The deep analysis of the 2017 CISL data for employee engagement has provided important information and insight into how programme design can create a positive impact.
To put the 2017 CISL Study research findings into practice Emerging World is running a Cross-company CISL Experience in May 2018. The programme, which will take place in Kenya, uses the results of the 2017 CISL Impact Benchmark Study to guide programme design and harnesses methodology that we have employed across successful programmes with global organisations such as Microsoft and Salesforce.
To learn more about the Cross-company CISL Experience click here.
Gallup.com (2016) State of the American Workplace [online] available at http://news.gallup.com/reports/199961/7.aspx [accessed on 6 November 2017]