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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Battling "The Great Resignation"
Guest Column by: Danielle Holly

The asset management industry, like so many other sectors, adapted to the work from home environment by demanding laser focus on the needs of clients and prospects. But demanding workloads and loss of connection in the work from home environment have come at a cost. Waves of professionals are now not only leaving their jobs, but — in many cases — their current industries entirely in what has been dubbed the "Great Resignation."

Danielle Holly
Common Impact
According to the most recent U.S. Labor Department Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS), around 4 million people quit their jobs in July, and there are more exits to come — the Achievers Workforce Institute reports that 52 percent of respondents in a recent survey said they will job hunt in 2021.

Burnout, pursuit of purpose, and shifting priorities are just some of the pieces behind a clear and growing disconnect between employees and employers, but there are proven ways to help people feel more engaged with the places they work and better connected to those who work around them. Several of the largest asset managers in the country are getting out in front of these issues using a tried and tested approach with a host of tangible benefits: skills-based volunteerism.

Building a Skills-Based Volunteering Program

Put simply, a well-constructed skills-based volunteer program activates a company's most powerful asset — its people — to contribute their skills and talents to address nonprofit capacity building needs. Across job functions like marketing, finance, IT, HR, and more, skilled volunteering engages corporate professionals in solving specific challenges for nonprofits addressing issues such as food security, educational equity, workforce development, and much more.

According to data from Gallup, 90 percent of companies showed a drop in turnover after implementing a skills-based volunteer program and 74 percent of employees report that their job is more fulfilling when provided with opportunities to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues. And while this holds true for employees at all stages of their career, the impact can often be most pronounced in the younger cohort, that Gen Z contingent from which the next generation of corporate leaders will emerge, but who can often be challenging to keep from job hopping. We have seen consistently in our work that this generation is very purpose-driven and wants to work for a company that shares their values. Giving emerging leaders the chance to leverage their professional skills for the good of the community is an excellent way for employers to simultaneously activate on social impact, talent development, and employee engagement goals.

Powering Change, Building Key Skills

Skills-based volunteering generates great personal wins for volunteers and for the nonprofits who access the collected wisdom of a team of experts. But it's key to not understate the value for employers as well. Beyond having a happier and more engaged workforce, we've also found that 96 percent of skills-based volunteers consider the experience to be a valuable professional development opportunity, stretching their capabilities by extending their talents in new environments, learning from peers, and developing their "toolbox" and ways of thinking.

For example, State Street, a long-time partner and one of our many key partners in the asset management space, recognized a need for new and innovative professional development opportunities for their cross-border teams working between their U.S. and China offices. They partnered with us to help build this connection and began working with The Family Center, a nonprofit organization, to help build their new website.

State Street employees reported three main benefits from this experiential volunteer project:

  1. The team members that typically work with technology behind the scenes were able to work and speak directly with the client, which improved their client management skills.

  2. The teams in China credited the project with improving their project management skills.

  3. All teams reported that sharing their skills with the nonprofit gave them a sense of fulfillment, which helps significantly with employee retention.

Skills-based volunteering can also open pathways for employees to explore expanded or alternative roles within their current company instead of leaving to pursue a change. The "learning by doing' and skill sharing components coupled with exposure to different colleagues and nonprofit professionals can motivate employees to take on ownership of new tasks, pursue management tracks, or move into a different department, all within their current company.

Bespoke Solutions, Tangible Results

In an industry that's becoming increasingly aware of prioritizing social impact initiatives, ESG approaches, and projects that deliver results beyond those reflected in the bottom line, skills-based volunteering is a high-impact solution for fostering a strong company culture and investing in your people, mitigating the negative effects of the Great Resignation on your firm.

Danielle Holly is the CEO of Common Impact, an organization that designs programs that direct companies' most strategic philanthropic asset — their people — to the seemingly intractable social challenges they're best positioned to address. 

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