top of page

Putting an End to Dismal Employee Engagement – How Community Helps

By Dmitri Kharitidi and Sabrina El-Chibini

This article is Part 1 of a two-part series that will explore (1) how a transformative approach to community involvement empowers and engages employees, and, (2) the social and business transformation that results from employee empowerment, referencing learnings from the field.

Employee empowerment leads to employee engagement, especially when it comes to community.  Our research is showing that the dominant majority of employees who were empowered to become involved with community in a meaningful and transformative way had positive employee engagement scores in relation to their participation (1).  These same employees contributed directly to the implementation of real, innovative solutions to societal challenges. The value proposition for tapping into this world of opportunity is long - for communities, employees, and for business.   By thinking out-of-the-office, companies can multiply personal and professional development activities exponentially around a uniting goal of benefiting society.  


While dismal advances have been made in collective employee engagement scores over time in the United States (2), a growing body of research is demonstrating that employee engagement correlates directly with the extent to which employees believe that their company is socially and environmentally responsible (3).   Social responsibility drives multiple favorable employee indicators including engagement, retention, satisfaction, and advocacy (8).  Companies should consider including transformative employee engagement approaches to community as part of an integrated strategy that includes additional tactics known to drive engagement.

The value of employee engagement


Only 33% of U.S. employees are engaged at work, with that figure having remained more or less steady over the last decade (±3%) (2). Employee engagement figures remain uninspiring despite the $720 million that are committed to engagement each year and that are expected to grow to $1.5 billion (4). 


On average, an engaged employee puts in 57% more effort, is 87% less likely to quit and at least 5 times more likely to act as company ambassador (Figure 1) (2, 5, 6).  Engagement results in 59% less employee turnover (2), a significant finding when the estimated cost of replacing an employee is 9 months of salary (7).



                                                                                 Figure 1: Business Value of Employee Engagement

Stakeholder Engagement


The benefit of increased work effort of engaged employees may result in a 20% boost in sales, a 17% boost in productivity and up to a 10% increase in customer satisfaction (2). Overall, companies with high rates of employee engagement can expect to be 21% more profitable (2).


How a transformative approach empowers and engages


Relative to a corporate community program, a transformative engagement approach maximizes opportunity all around by empowering employees to help generate solutions to much needed societal challenges.  Interested employees are proactively included in decision-making regarding every aspect of a company community program - design, partner selection, objective setting, implementation, and evaluation.  This is achieved in a pragmatic, methodical way while respecting work schedules and deadlines. 


Activities and metrics are tracked diligently to ensure follow through, stakeholder accountability, and to allow building of real, meaningful, impact-based communications that will spur further engagement.  When companies empower employees to become involved in a project that they are passionate about, they become proud ambassadors of the company, feel like they are bridging their personal and professional interests, and experience a better sense of work-life balance.  Opportunities are generated for employees to: 


  • Lead

  • Unite peers

  • Build and act on innovative ideas

  • Be recognized for their achievements

  • Make a real difference directly in the community and/or with community members

  • Represent the company within the community


The approach fills hierarchical needs that deter complex reasons for disengagement, such as poor recognition of accomplishments (2).  On the flip side, it engages by filling higher needs such as the ability to do what I do best and the feeling of having made a valuable contribution (2).   Employees get to play an active role in corporate social responsibility efforts and contribute beyond traditional donation & volunteerism opportunities (10).

partnership facilitation

impact measuring and reporting 

When transposed against Maslow’s Hierarchy of Employee Engagement, the approach acts as a driver to achieve the highest level of employee engagement (Figure 2).   An employee who is contributing on a long-term basis and who is involved in working towards a common goal and a desired outcome will feel a sense of belonging, of importance, and of self-actualization. 


                        Figure 2.  The transformative approach transposed against Maslow’s Hierarchy of Employee Engagement


Organizations that are in Maslow’s lower stages, i.e. survival and security, would be internally focussed with workforces that can leverage only company-generated opportunities.  Internally-focussed organizations may very well have the lowest levels of engagement opportunities in today’s context of growing partnerships & collaborations. 


Part 2 of this article will present the social and business transformation that results from employee empowerment, referencing learnings from the field.

The Collaboration Vector Inc. (TCV) is a next generation consultancy firm specialized in transformative community involvement strategies, transformative employee involvement programs, proactive stakeholder mapping and engagement, transformative partnership designs, partnership facilitation, and impact measurement, reporting and communications. TCV has a team of strategists, business professionals, and researchers in health and wellness, economic growth, education, poverty reduction, entrepreneurship, leadership and climate action. The company works with clients in the private, non-profit, and public sectors. 


©The Collaboration Vector Inc. 2017.  All Rights Reserved.


  1. The Collaboration Vector Inc. research, 2016

  2. “State of American Workplace”, Gallup, 2016.

  3. “Engaging Employees through CSR,” CBSR and Hewitt Associates webinar, 2010.


  5. “The Keys to Corporate Responsibility Employee Engagement”, PWC, 2014.

  6. “Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, Temkin Group, 2016.

  7. “Employee Retention - The Real Cost of Losing an Employee”, Christina Mehnar, ZanaBenefits blog, 2016.

  8.  “Kenexa Work Trends”, Kenexa, 2010

bottom of page