Corporate Giving Is Top Driver of Employee Experience at the Best Companies to Work For – Especially Now

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One of the most impactful best practices from the 100 Best this year is generous community giving.

WIIFM has become WIIFTC at the 100 Best.

That is, the old adage that people are motivated by “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) has transformed at this year’s Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®. In the wake of the COVID pandemic, racial reckoning and other challenges of the past year, employees at the 100 Best are now driven by “what’s in it for the community” (WIIFTC).

In particular, employees at companies with generous and lasting corporate social responsibility efforts during the pandemic were 15.6 times more likely to say their company was a great place to work.

Great Place to Work® discovered this connection between corporate giving and employee happiness while producing this year’s 100 Best Companies ranking.

Help the community, help employee morale

When leaders helped the community last year, they helped boost employee sentiment.

Great Place to Work research into the 2021 100 Best found that when employees felt good about how their company contributed to their communities, they were:

  • 1.9 times more likely to experience pride in their organization
  • 1.7 times more likely to report receiving a fair share of the profits made by their organization
  • 1.7 times more likely to say their work has special meaning rather than being “just a job”
  • 1.6 times more likely to say that their executives fully embody the best characteristics of the company

And employees at these phenomenal companies have plenty to be proud of: The 100 Best took heroic actions to support their communities in a challenging year.

Nationwide is on the community’s side

Consider mutual insurance company Nationwide, and its big-hearted response to the COVID crisis.

The company’s foundation provided $5 million in grants to support the American Red Cross, Feeding America, United Way and local organizations.

The impact on employee experience

When asked what makes Nationwide a great place to work, one Nationwide employee told us: “We stress the noble purpose of our work and our values. Big commitment to supporting community through donations and support of volunteerism.”

There was no mention from this employee of fancy perks or PTO – their reponse began and ended with community giving.

Camden opens its checkbook for residents

We can also look to Camden Property Trust, which owns and manages 165 apartment communities across the country. Their deep pockets matched their deep values.

At the outset of the pandemic and related economic downturn, Ric Campo, Camden’s chair of the board and CEO, and Keith Oden, executive vice chair, recognized many of Camden’s tenants would struggle with rent payments and the costs of food and other life necessities.

So in April 2020, they set up both a rent deferral program and a program for renters to apply for grants of up to $2,000.

“We just figured we needed to do something and do something in a big way, and we knew it would take money,” Ric said.

Ric and Keith donated funds from their upcoming bonuses – a total of $1 million.

Camden added to those personal contributions to establish a $5 million relief fund.

When that $5 million was distributed in a mere 16 minutes, Camden added another $5.4 million to the fund.

Ultimately, 8,000 Camden residents benefitted from the grants.

Employees took note and pride swelled

In the company’s Trust Index™ survey, many employees mentioned the generosity of Camden’s leaders. Here’s one of many examples of employees’ praise when asked what makes the company a great place to work:

Camden is a caring company, for example giving financial assistance to residents during this time. This is something that makes me proud to work for this company. Also giving bonuses to the front-line employees was another thing that makes me proud to be a Camden employee! My direct report and the VP are the best people I have worked for in my life and I have worked for some really good people. VP is phenomenal!

Texas Health Resources acts as a community resource on COVID

Community support took different forms in 2020, such as acts of solidarity with the Black community after George Floyd’s murder, and corporate giving in response to the economy.

But it also included projecting a voice of fact-based reason amid disinformation.

Barclay Berdan, CEO of Texas Health Resources, stepped up to educate Dallas and other North Texas communities about the pandemic last year.

Given how polarized the public conversation about the pandemic became, Barclay was asked to share his messages about COVID beyond the walls of his healthcare system. In October, he began publishing a wider community newsletter – covering topics such as the effectiveness of COVID vaccines.

Barclay didn’t expect to play this role. But he felt called to serve as a truth-teller in a confusing time. “There was a leadership gap,” Barclay said. “People needed to step in and fill it.”

How employees feel the social impact

The word “community” was mentioned time and time again in Texas Health survey responses. Employees told us that what makes the company unique is its “commitment to the community,” “community outreach” and “community time off.”

Research has shown that helping others is one of the key sources from which humans derive meaning in their lives. And in times of crisis, humans, as social animals, have a natural urge to help others. It’s clear from Texas Health employee praise that during the difficulty of last year, being able to give back through work was especially powerful.

How does your company stack up on giving back?

Is your company excelling when it comes to community service in these difficult times? In 2021, 30% of the list is made up of first-timers – companies that made it because of how they were caring through crisis. You too can apply to get on a Best Workplaces list. Sign up for our company culture newsletter for more examples of best practices from Best Workplaces.

A special thanks to our 100 Best Celebration Partners, which include: 

AbbVie, Anthem Health System, Atlantic Health System, Burlington, Cadence, Camden, Cisco, Citrix, Comcast, DHL Express U.S., Deloitte, Dow, Edward Jones, Experian, First American, Hilton, KPMG, Marriott, Nationwide, OC Tanner, Rocket Companies, Salesforce, Synchrony, UKG, Wegmans and WellStar.

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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.

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