By Amanda Bowman, IBLF
Wow. New York was busy last week. Capitalising on the UN General Assembly meetings, many other organisations took the opportunity to bring people together to forward their agendas. IBLF was involved with several events – the UN Private Sector Forum, The Global Business Coalition on Health, a Business Call to Action private breakfast, the UN High-Level Forum on non-communicable diseases and of course the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting.
I was one of the IBLF team in town, and my focus was with the CGI Annual Meeting – where over 1200 attendees took part in and three days of plenaries, leadership lunches, breakouts, Action Network meetings, and insightful group discussions.
There’s no denying that the line up was impressive. Under President Bill Clinton’s strong leadership throughout the week, we were led through three tracks on Jobs, Sustainable Consumption and Girls and Women. The scene was set on Day 1 with a Leaders Dialogue on Climate Change featuring President Clinton interviewing heads of state from Bangladesh, Grenada, Iceland, Mali, Mexico, Norway, Slovenia and South Africa on how climate change can help to create jobs, build new industries and strengthen economic and ecological systems around the world.
People come to CGI for different reasons – some to learn, some to share and some to find new partners. My main focus for the week was to host the CGI Pathways to Employee Engagement Action Network meeting (falling under their ‘Sustainable Consumption: Ensuring Long-term Prosperity on a Finite Planet’ strand). The Network meets virtually throughout the year, and I co-lead on it with Gary Grates from Edelman. Deirdre White from CDC Development Solutions worked with us to lead the meeting for some of the 80 or so regular participants of the Network together with Annual Meeting participants interested in our topic. Attendees shared both what works for them and their concerns around employee engagement.
From our end, we shared some of the most recent trends in employee engagement featuring results from Edelman’s Rethinking Employee Engagement , CDC Development Solutions’ International Corporate Volunteering Benchmarking Survey and IAVE’s Global Corporate Volunteering Project. Here are the Top Five:
1. Rethinking Employee Engagement states that only one in five workers are giving full discretionary effort to their job. At the same time, companies with highly engaged employees outperform the total stock market and enjoyed total shareholder returns at 19% higher than the average in 2009, while those with low engagement levels saw total shareholder returns stand at 44% lower than the average.
2. An Edelman study of 30 MNCs found that some defined employee engagement in emotional terms – satisfaction, pride and motivation. Others acknowledged that employee engagement is necessary but elusive especially in tough times.
3. The CGI Action Network definition for employee engagement builds on the above – “To leverage the positive benefits achieved from a strong relationship between the company and its employees in order to derive greater employee discretionary effort in achieving the organization’s objectives”. We focus activity on employee community engagement and leverage the opportunities for employee engagement to deliver to business, employee and society needs.
4. The CDC Development Solutions (CDS) benchmark survey explored companies’ experience of employee community engagement programmes where employees cross international borders and provide services based primarily on the skills used in their day jobs. The number of programmes of this kind have grown from 6 programmes in 2006 to 21 in 2011, and participating employees from 280 employees in 2006 to almost 2,000 in 2011.
5. The CDS survey confirmed that the greatest benefit cited by companies are of employee skills development with local community benefit, meeting CSR objectives, HR benefits and research and development.
These results were endorsed by the IAVE research that highlighted seven key learnings including that employee community engagement is being used as a strategic asset to help achieve business goals and the importance of sustained and consistent measurement and evaluation.
Was it worth it and would I go again? Yes please. I’ve returned home inspired with several new ideas for my work, for our CGI Action Network and lots of anecdotes to share.