Elevate Employee Engagement: Smart Strategies for Thriving Teams on a Budget

BY Carrie Snider | May 17, 2024

Employees crave meaningful experiences. But with limited time and budgets, how can companies build more purpose into the work experience? Fifteen minutes at a time, says Ben Sampson.

Sampson is chief evangelist of social impact and employee engagement at WizeHive, which offers software platforms for managing scholarships and workplace giving, as well as immersive volunteer experiences via WeHero. 

At a From Day One’s webinar, Sampson spoke to the idea of how turnkey volunteering can increase employee engagement on a budget. Kelly Bourdet of Apparata Media interviewed.

Coming from a volunteer background, Sampson knew how engaging it can be to help others.  One thing led to another, and he eventually co-founded WeHero to help facilitate opportunities for employees to engage in volunteering experiences through their workplace. 

“We're constantly looking at what employees need,” he said. More and more, he’s learned that employees want to work for a company with purpose. They want to go to work and feel like it makes a good social impact. Some potential employees even ask about those opportunities during hiring. 

On the flip side, employees are also extremely conscious of their time. “How can we be time sensitive to get employees engaged in our companies, and give them a good experience of continuously engaging over and over again?” Sampson asked. 

In the past, companies would typically ask employees to go out and find their own volunteer opportunities, then spend time out of the office. While employees love giving back, putting the burden of doing all the legwork doesn’t fit within time constraints or even company budgets. 

The key, Sampson and his team have learned, is meeting the company and the employees where they are and giving back their most valuable resource: their time.

Journalist Kelly Bourdet interviewed Ben Sampson of WizeHive during the From Day One webinar (photo by From Day One)

Companies big or small, hybrid or in-office, local or global, all can better engage through impact experiences. Having WizeHive take care of the burden of logistics allows employees to enjoy the process of volunteering without a lot of extra time while maximizing their impact. 

“Bite size volunteer opportunities make a lot of impact,” Sampson said. “Maybe that's building a water filter for 15 minutes out of your workday, maybe that is answering a video call from someone that’s visually disabled that needs help finding the bus stop. Volunteering can be a great way for engaging employees in a low-cost mechanism.”

At one company with an office and a warehouse, Sampson says the warehouse personnel generally didn’t have the time to participate in volunteer projects. So they set up a station where all employees could put together backpacks with supplies for kids during lunch or a break. Warehouse employees felt more included and engaged.

“They even got to see the kids picking up the backpacks, so that was really special,” Sampson said. Even though the project took very little time and employees didn’t even need to leave the workplace to do it, the project still had a big impact on the community.

One thing to focus on when rolling out opportunities is showing the clear path to impact. What will be the result of putting in their time? Virtual events are especially popular, Sampson says, as more people can participate in them and they fit most budgets. Sampson’s team can also help match people with specific skills to volunteer opportunities. Doing transcription work for the Smithsonian or Ancestry are just two examples of something people can do that have a clear path of impact—saving pieces of history and helping people connect with ancestors. 

Leadership buy-in is crucial for success, Sampson says. Companies where leadership is engaged and participating in impact projects correlate highly with employee participation and engagement as well. Mercedes is one company where the CEO works alongside employees during their volunteer experiences, connecting employees with leadership and allowing them to see each other outside the typical work setting.

But sometimes getting that leadership buy-in can be challenging. “What is something the HR side can use to argue for the value?” Bourdet asked Sampson.

To understand what’s most important to that leader, likely profitability for the company, then offering metrics or other reasons why volunteerism is the answer. If that leader is focused on employee retention, Sampson has a metric for that. 

“What are the costs of employee turnover? For a lot of businesses that we work with, it’s millions of dollars.” So, if employee engagement improves through these impact projects, it could save the company money. For one company they were working with, Sampson predicted a $26 million savings over 12 months, if done effectively. 

“There is so much positive emotion when people volunteer.” One employee who was able to volunteer for the first time told Sampson, “It’s cool that my employer has given me the opportunity to do this.” Now that’s employee engagement. 

Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, WizeHive, for sponsoring this webinar.

Carrie Snider is a Phoenix-based journalist and marketing copywriter.


Belonging for Everyone: Reimagine the Future of DEI

Without taking diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) training seriously, workplace inclusion will not improve. Cultural bias could corrupt the company, making it unsafe and undesirable for minorities in certain roles within a company. Companies deciding that DEIB is unimportant could see higher turnover rates than their competitors who utilize this training to support and accept their employees without judgment. At From Day One’s Dallas conference, Renu Sachdeva, head of client solutions at Talking Talent, North America, spoke to the importance of DEIB training in the workplace, especially in the midst of pushback. For Sachdeva, pushing work around DEIB forward is a driving point each and every day. She shared the story of Botham Jean, who was murdered by an off-duty police officer in 2018. Botham, who went by Bo, was a colleague of Sachdeva. Bo’s murder drew attention to racial biases, being that he was an unarmed Black man, killed in his own home. “Bo is a huge part of why this work continues to be so important to me today,” said Sachdeva. Despite the recent positive steps forward in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, there are still many hurdles to jump over to reach the end goal, says Sachdeva. Many business leaders are already seeing budget cuts and reluctance to these initiatives. But this training is vital to understand the significance of inclusion for the long-term success of companies. Additionally, more workers consider it table stakes when considering a place to work.Renu Sachdeva, head of client solutions at Talking Talent, North America, led the thought leadership spotlight “94% of people in a survey said that it is very or somewhat important to them to feel a sense  of belonging in the workplace. And yet 75% have said that they felt excluded in some way,”  said Sachdeva. With a percentage so high, why would a company not want DEIB training within their organization? Satisfied employees means more productivity and higher retention rates. Talking Talent’s approach to DEIB is rooted in two beliefs. First, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is for everyone. Second, you have to fix the culture. Saying DEIB is for everyone means that no particular ethnic group or cultural background is  excluded from the conversation. It should be at the forefront of the employee lifecycle, and practice in recruiting efforts, onboarding, and performance reviews. Rather than offering training as a one-time solution, it should be an integral aspect of the overall employee experience. Inclusive leadership and allyship training for current and future leaders ensures that each leader has the necessary skills to invite diversity and inclusion into the company. Sachdeva says that employees who get promoted may have exceptional technical skills, which is why they get promoted in the first place. Yet, they have not gained the managerial skills to foster inclusion and guide people underneath them as a strong leader. Each organization has its unique risks if effective inclusion is not a priority. Pushing the work around DEIB forward is a necessity, and can propel engagement and success, says Sachdeva.Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, Talking Talent, for sponsoring this thought leadership spotlight.Mary Jones is a freelance writer out of Ohio. Her work is featured in several publications including The Dallas Express, NDash, and The Daily Advocate.

Mary Jones | June 13, 2024

The Secrets to Boosting Remote-Team Productivity and Performance

To attract talent, employers need to offer remote and hybrid work, yet also need to create innovative arrangements that work for both the individual employees and the organization. Employees tend to think they're more productive working from home, yet research indicates that's not always the case. How to bridge the gap and ensure optimal performance?“Leaders need to know how to support these distributed workforces in ways that don’t just ensure that they’re physically at work every day, but that they’re performing their best in a sustainable way,” said Sarah Altemus, productivity lab manager at ActivTrak. “This will be a real differentiator for organizations,” she said during a From Day One webinar.ActivTrak provides interactive dashboards and modern software to help employers and managers gain insight into maximizing remote and hybrid workplace productivity. These tools help measure utilization, identify signs of individual burnout, summarize daily and weekly goal progress, and develop more balanced workloads.Leah Ivory, solution consultant at ActivTrak discussed key dashboards and reports that  provide employers and their managers with the tools to identify key results areas, measure individual productivity, measure team utilization, and spot opportunities to reestablish workload balance and engagement.ActivTrak’s software integrates direct email communication to foster coaching discussions among managers and individual team members to strategize performance plans and solutions to engagement challenges.Their one-stop dashboard provides a 30,000-foot organizational and team management system using graphs and charts that can be broken down by department, region, or group. It should be referred to daily to track engagement levels in real-time and over the previous 30-day period to measure goal progress. Users can also see team productivity metrics for every member and weekly utilization trends. Other insights include workload balance reports, coaching and personal insights, and more.These innovative tools help strategize high productivity in remote and hybrid settings. In 2024, most businesses have adapted to offering remote and hybrid work to keep talent. However, without referring to data there is no assurance that investing more in remote or hybrid work policies will be sustainable.Employers often omit key insights by looking at traditional outputs that deliver results like production, revenue, and quality. Altemus says that insights into the inputs, like how employees work, how to use technology, how processes are adapted, and how training influences behavior, offer valuable insights into optimizing remote and hybrid work performance combined with output insights.Sarah Altemus of ActivTrak led the From Day One webinar (company photo)“What happens when we don’t track the inputs is we put ourselves in a position where maybe we overhire, and when we overhire, we’ll have low utilization elsewhere in the organization. We buy technology that goes underutilized and have higher technology costs as a result of it.”Analytical tools revealing personal insights get to the root of the inputs: they identify who is overworking or underworking, who works better and where, and more information that gives employers and managers the opportunity to address the oncoming burnout or disengagement of a team member. Goals can be restructured and more personalized to improve productivity.The ability for managers to access the personal insights of every individual team member presents a highly personalized one-on-one coaching opportunity to strategize a performance plan supporting their upward mobility based on their projects, location where their productivity is the most efficient, or restoring their workload balance.“We’re really committed to being an employee-centric tool, empowering employees with their own data or providing the right level of information to the right level of people in the organization. We’re making sure that executives have access to the data they need for decision-making and managers are able to be effective,” said Altemus.Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, ActivTrak, for sponsoring this webinar. Stephanie Reed is a freelance news, marketing, and content writer. Much of her work features small business owners throughout diverse industries. She is passionate about promoting small, ethical, and eco-conscious businesses.

Stephanie Reed | June 12, 2024

The No-Cost Solution to an Expensive Problem: Employee Turnover

Employee turnover is too expensive for businesses not to find alternative solutions. The Society of Human Resources Management reported that it costs up to 9 months worth of an employee's salary to replace and train someone who leaves their position. On a broader scope, it’s a prevalent issue causing businesses to lose a trillion dollars yearly according to Gallup.R.W. Holleman, director of strategic accounts at DailyPay, cautions that employee turnover is equally detrimental to a company’s financial stability and employees' successful workplace engagement. “The cost of employee turnover is not just a concern for HR departments,” Holleman said in a thought leadership spotlight at From Day One’s Dallas conference. “It’s a substantial burden on the financial health of the company, impacting the productivity of every single employee.” How can businesses stop spending more money, plunging deeper into debt, and begin reducing employee turnover? Holleman highlights a key employee benefit that addresses the leading cause of workers leaving their positions and offers a direct solution. Earned Wage Access: Solving Financial Burden Financial hardship is the leading cause of stress. In 2020, Purdue University cited survey results from CreditWise, revealing that people experienced more stress and anxiety over finances than work.. However, bonuses and pay increases aren’t an immediate solution for businesses nor employees. Businesses taking out more loans increases financial burdens and does not solve the core of the economic hardships of employees: the need for quick pay. Without access to quicker pay, workers must look for other side hustles and careers that provide same-day access to the money they need. “It’s not necessarily how much they have or how much they’ve earned. It’s about the access to the funds when you need it the most,” Holleman said.R.W. Holleman of DailyPay led the thought leadership spotlight in Dallas “The American worker is being challenged like never before to pay those bills on time. They don’t wait. They’re bouncing from job to job. They’re taking on gig jobs.”The solution is to provide Earned Wage Access (EWA), where employees access their pay as they earn it. EWA does not require taking out loans and is not an advance. It is money employees have already earned, making it a cost-effective solution for businesses and an inclusive benefit for all employees. An impressive 95% of DailyPay clients who previously relied on payday loans reduced their use or stopped altogether, and 97% of clients experienced less overdrafting, saving more than $600 yearly, according to research done by DailyPay. Other notable statistics include reducing turnover by up to 73% and 73% of participants citing they feel more confident managing their finances overall.An Empathetic Solution “Think of a time [when] you were at a grocery store. Have you ever had your card decline?” Holleman asked. “We’re managers, directors, VPs, executives–we got our life going and figured it out. But what about others,” he said, citing other life stages like college, where financial security is less common. The strain on all resources when organizations have to replace employees is apparent: advertising, reviewing applications, interviewing, recruiting, onboarding, and training costs money and time. Consequently, the employee workload increases with a loss of expertise from occupied managers, risking customer relations and creating an environment of uncertainty among teams. EWA exemplifies a win-win situation: it provides financial wellness that sustains employees, helping them stay committed and engaged in their current positions instead of taking more sick days or switching to gig jobs entirely for quicker pay. EWA saves businesses from spending around $45,000 to hire and train a replacement for a previous employee making $60,000 yearly.“It empowers them and provides them the flexibility they need over their finances. So they can bring the best version of themselves to work. And in turn, it can help your company be the best version it needs to be.”Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, DailyPay, for sponsoring this thought leadership spotlight. Stephanie Reed is a freelance news, marketing, and content writer. Much of her work features small business owners throughout diverse industries. She is passionate about promoting small, ethical, and eco-conscious businesses.

Stephanie Reed | June 11, 2024