Michael Maynard wears a lot of hats, figuratively speaking. Not only is he a Director of the business he co-founded 30 years ago, Maynard Leigh Associates, which specialises in management and leadership development, he’s an award-winning business speaker and is also now the Chair of The Funding Network. Michael said: “I wanted to step back from the business a bit, so the position of Chair of The Funding Network allows me to take something new on, while giving something back”.

At first, the link might not seem straight-forward but Michael has always been fascinated by employee engagement and Maynard Leigh Associates has long been part of the Government’s scheme to improve engagement levels, in all sizes of businesses. It boils down to understanding what makes staff think they work for a great company, and Michael believes that “every level of performance in a business is improved with a high level of employee engagement”.

A simple way to engage staff is to allow them to fund raise or spend time on charitable causes, giving something back. Whether it’s a bake sale for Children in Need or Comic Relief, volunteering at the local Care home, or spending time repairing a community centre, Michael says the evidence shows staff coming together to work on something, developing new skills other than in the business, can be hugely inspiring and beneficial to the company, as Michael says “People want to feel they make a difference in a business and the world. It makes them feel valued and inspired and it’s a relatively low-cost way of experiencing the quality of their company.”

Businesses that don’t engage in charitable work are simply missing out. The good news is you don’t have to run a multi-national corporation to be involved in philanthropy. The Funding Network regularly sees staff from small businesses attending events with a modest budget. They choose which projects or people to invest in. Michael describes the live crowd funding events as a sociable and fun evening where individuals, groups and charities pitch for money. The audience choose if and how much they want to donate. Michael says the employees who attend on behalf of a company say how much they get out of the event and believe they work for fantastic companies, whatever its size or turnover, “It’s a win-win for a business; employees are engaged and inspired by helping genuine, local causes. This then has an impact on the company’s bottom line, the staff embrace and value the company they work for”.

To find out more about how a live Funding Network event works click here.