This week we held a successful B:CIVIC Members Working Lunch, the second in a series we have launched this year. The lunches are designed for professionals across many roles and are a chance for the host to showcase their company, and for attendees to share strategies and suggestions on the topic at hand.

More than 25 people from diverse companies, in HR, internal communications, marketing, CSR and Senior Vice President roles gathered at First Western Trust (FWT) for our session, “Cultivating Employee Engagement.” Alexis Owen, Director of Brand, FWT facilitated the gathering (pictured here) and shared the strategy FWT used to assess and build their culture and employee engagement. She showed how and why they view engagement in its broadest context, where CSR is a crucial tool for engagement, but just one of several aspects of engagement. Attendees discussed their challenges and solutions with engagement in small group discussions, which were also a nice opportunity to network.

MORE: Takeaway ideas

During the working lunch discussion, various “best practices” and suggestions emerged, such as:

  • Hiring managers must be schooled in the company’s CSR/employee engagement approach and initiatives, and better, they should experience it themselves so they “own it” too. Potential hires are increasingly using CSR and engagement as a factor in judging the company.
  • Engagement increases when the company finds ways to give a voice to employees in what and how employees will be involved, give ownership in the activity, and participate in decision-making.
  • When asking for donations, it is important to make the experience more human, by showing how the donations change outcomes for recipients and nonprofits. Get creative with videos, guest speakers, or testimonials from fellow employees who’ve been there with a connection to a nonprofit.
  • Where branch offices exist, and not everyone can be gone at the same time, consider creating volunteer opportunities for people from different branches to work together and get to know others with whom they don’t usually interface.
  • One way to interest senior management in employee engagement is to share with them the Glassdoor ratings for their company, which could be eye-opening as to perceptions and the need for change.