Prosocial Motivation: Increase Employee Productivity and Connection While Building Your Fund

Do you want employees to feel more connected to your company?
Would you like to see an increase in worker productivity?
Would you like to increase your worker retention rates?
Are you looking to improve the flow of donations to your fund?

Understanding Prosocial Motivation could be the answer you’re looking for. First, lets discuss communicating to your employees about your fund. 

The way you communicate about your Fund can drastically affect how well employees hear the message, participate by donating or applying and how significantly the company benefits from the prosocial motivation Therefore, it is important to carefully consider the language and methods you use when promoting your fund to your employees.  

Make efforts to promote Fund awareness in a manner that empowers employees, rather than causing them to feel targeted as someone who may need assistance. Teach your employees about the how they can contribute to the Fund and why it matters. In other words: 

  • Focus on how your Fund helps employees in times of need, rather than the details of the types of grants available. 
  • Encourage employees to donate to the Fund to help their fellow employees in need.
  • Share testimonials of those who received assistance in times if hardship (thanks to your Fund).
  • Make an emotional connection.

Studies have shown conclusively, that communicating about your fund in this manner will increase employee awareness. More importantly, studies show that when employees donate, it increases their productivity and positive association with your company culture, leading to higher levels of employee retention. This is where the term, Prosocial Motivation comes in. 

Prosocial Behavior is behavior that benefits another person or society. When a company focuses on creating a culture focused on community and cause, studies have shown it can lead to increases in productivity.

The Aspen Institute, in partnership with Commonwealth, recently conducted research on Employee Hardship Funds and found that:

…workers felt valued by their employers because of their funds’ existence. As a result, 72% stated that they were more likely to stay with their current employer than leave for a company without hardship funds. In addition, the contributions of their coworkers generated a strong sense of community. One participant stated, “It made me feel like my coworkers had my back.”

While there are many articles and research papers on the subject, the excerpt below from Margaret Greenberg and Senia Maymin’s article “Why be ‘Prosocial’ at Work?” (May 12, 2014) does a wonderful job summing up the concept:

“Prosocial doesn’t mean that you’re hanging out in the break-room all day long socializing with your co-workers. Remember that motivation is the desire to take action and that prosocial means for the benefit of others. Hence, according to Wharton Professor Adam Grant and PhD candidate Justin Berg, prosocial motivation means taking action for the benefit of others or with the intention of helping others.

How Helping Others Helps You

Many of us were taught that you had to be competitive rather than collaborative to get ahead and that you have to focus on your own work rather than on helping others with theirs. Perhaps surprisingly, there are benefits to helping others according to Grant and Berg’s overview of the research.

First, picture our client, senior manager Kathy, at work. Kathy is naturally drawn to helping others, and she has unexpectedly found over the years that when she helps others, it tends to make her more proactive at work in general. She starts to become more interested in taking greater initiative, she works harder on meaningful tasks, and she becomes more open to negative feedback, a critical skill for managers.

Second, in studies of firefighters and fundraisers, Professor Grant found that when people “want to help” rather than feel that they “have to help,” they work harder, have better performance, and have greater productivity. Who wouldn’t want such results at their job?

Third, prosocial motivation is tied to creativity. Wanting to take actions to help others leads employees to be better at taking other people’s perspectives. Such employees can see in advance what is valuable about an idea from another’s point of view. Thus, prosocially motivated employees are better at translating new ideas into useful, creative applications for others.

Finally, employees report that helping someone else makes them feel really good, makes them glad to uphold a moral principle, and makes them pleased to strengthen their relationship with their team.”

Here are a few more resources on Prosocial Behavior and Motivation:

Douglas Stockham
EAF President

Racquel Vespucci
EAF Director of Growth & Development

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