This is the first in a series on the value and impact of employee volunteerism programs.
Companies are searching high and low for better ways to engage employees, from offering unique company perks to embracing a lenient work-from-home policy — yet these efforts often have little direct effect on employee engagement. A Gallup poll finding that 70 percent of employees feel disengaged makes it even more imperative for companies to think creatively, but part of the answer may lie in a simple idea: encourage employees to get involved in community work and give back to a cause alongside their coworkers. Not only does it make employees feel more invested in their workplace, but it also gives them a more positive view of the company and is highly relevant for successfully recruiting younger generations.
Need proof? After employees at LBG Associates participated in a company-wide volunteer program, 71 percent said they had a more positive view of the company as a result, according to CauseCast. Plus, 61 percent of millennials who rarely or never volunteer would still consider a company’s commitment to the community when making a job decision, according to a 2011 Deloitte report. Now think about those who do regularly volunteer.
"Companies that have strong volunteerism programs attract employees more readily," said Joan Conrad, manager of communications and training for worldwide supply management at John Deere. "It’s something that potential employees like, and it also helps retain employees and build teamwork and enthusiasm and productivity."
When employees take time off work to give back to the community, the business takes a hit, right? Wrong. In fact, business leaders are increasingly incorporating the impact of community engagement programs into their business performance, according to Civic 50, a national initiative that ranks S&P 500 companies on their community engagement. Employees can actually enhance their soft skills and technical skills by volunteering their expertise. Nearly one in three employees at the top community-engaged S&P 500 companies volunteer their expertise, rather than lending a hand in a soup kitchen or clothing donation program — a number that's up from one in six in 2012.
Adds Conrad, "It’s so good for our employees to be able to share the talents they already have with their community to make our communities a better place to live. Our employees have such great skills and talents, what better than to share those with nonprofits to help them raise and achieve their mission?"
Employee Volunteerism in Action
Going Green: Supporting one of its core values, Patagonia offers employees the opportunity to volunteer throughout the country through an environmental internship program. Employees don’t just volunteer for a day or two — the month-long program involves 20 employees working in the field on everything from wild native fish outreach in the Northwest to assisting with bear conservation in Ecuador. The program doubles as a volunteer opportunity and an opportunity for a work detox.
Sharing Skills Internationally: Employees at Dow Corning, a global silicones supplier, can join the international corporate volunteer program, which focuses on employees sharing their technical skills with NGOs and social entrepreneurs in emerging markets. For example, one employee flew to Bangalore, India, for four weeks to revamp processes for a clean stove manufacturer. She was able to share her skills in creativity, critical thinking and leadership to improve business.
Tackling Business Problems: Whether an employee started a couple months ago or has been with the company for 15 years, Ernest & Young provides different opportunities for employees based on where they are in their career path. Mid-career top performers help companies through a Corporate Responsibility Fellows program. Take Andrew Nawoichyk: he gave a helping hand — and seven weeks of work time — to an up-and-coming footwear company in Argentina that needed guidance on how to expand. Younger employees travel to Mexico and Brazil to do environmental research and provide guidance to local entrepreneurs through the firm's Earthwatch Global Ambassadors program.
Once a company has a volunteer program in place, that doesn’t mean employees are going to remember the option is there — or that they’re going to jump right in. Global volunteer days can put the opportunity front-and-center for workers. Take Amway, a leader in health, beauty and homecare products: its global volunteer day resonated with those who volunteered previously and those who had never engaged in the employee volunteer program.
Jesse Hertstein, senior corporate citizen specialist for Amway, said the value of one day extended throughout the entire company culture. "It is a chance to engage those who may not otherwise sign up on their own," adds Hertstein. "It is an opportunity for people to try volunteering for the first time in a safe, lively environment. It is a way to emphasize the importance of community involvement in your organization’s culture."
Next time your company is looking for a way to make employees feel more dedicated to their work, look to volunteer programs as a solution. Whether it’s a day of volunteering, a trip or a global event, each opportunity provides end value for the employees and the company’s performance.
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Cartoon Coffee Break: Fitness Challenges
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. +++++ We’re approaching the middle of January, and New Year's resolutions are in full swing. For many, that means being more active and creating a regular gym schedule. But sticking to these goals can be challenging, especially for employees who work at a desk for eight or more hours per day. HR can help employees reach their goals by fostering a culture where workers feel empowered to prioritize their health and by offering benefits like gym memberships or wellness stipends.
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Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Header photo: Creative Commons
Ten Dad-Friendly Workplaces
When we talk about the quest to "have it all," it's almost always in reference to working women trying to balance a stressful 9-to-5 with the equally difficult demands of family. To be sure, women face distinct challenges in the workplace and high expectations at home. But this Father's Day, let's not forget that dads are increasingly juggling work and home life, too. Single fatherhood is becoming more common in the US—a 2013 Pew report found that a record 8 percent of families with children were headed by a single dad—and 60 percent of households with children are dual-income as of 2014, putting added pressure on both working parents. While policies in the US do not mandate paid family leave of any kind—unlike parent-topia Sweden, which offers 16 months of paid parental leave and three months specifically for paternity leave—many companies are now thinking about how they can help their workers be "Employee of the Year," without sacrificing their "Dad of the Year" trophy. Here are ten excellent companies for working dads, based on a new report from parenting resource website Fatherly. 1. Google Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Mountain View, CA Number Of Employees: 53,600 Paid Paternity Leave: 7 weeks (12 weeks for primary caregiver) Industry: Tech Dad-friendly Policy Highlight: When you work with Google, your family is part of the family—really. If an employee passes away, the company provides his/her spouse with 50 percent of their salary for 10 years and immediately vested stock options, and children receive $1,000 a month until they turn 19 (or 23 if they're a student). 2. Facebook Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Menlo Park, CA Number Of Employees: 10,082 Paid Paternity Leave: 17 weeks Industry: Tech Policy Highlight: Procreating pays off. Facebook gives new parents a $4,000 "new child benefit," along with subsidized day care. Not to mention the $20,000 worth of supplemental insurance coverage for fertility and family planning treatments. 3. Bank of America Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Charlotte, NC Number Of Employees: 220,000 Paid Parental Leave: 12 weeks Industry: Finance Policy Highlight: Bank of America's twelve weeks of paid paternity leave is on par with countries likeIceland. Not too shabby. And, if you can handle the pay break, the company also allows for an additional 14 weeks of unpaid leave. 4. Patagonia Photo: Shutterstock Headquarters: Ventura, CA Number Of Employees: 2,000 Paid Paternity Leave: 8 weeks Industry: Retail Policy Highlight: Working parents don't have to stray far from their kids as Patagonia provides on-site child care for kids up to nine years old. The famously laid-back company will also provide afternoon transportation from local schools back to the office babysitter. 5. State Street Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Boston, MA Number Of Employees: 29,530 Paid Paternity Leave: 4 weeks Industry: Finance Policy Highlight: Flexible work arrangements are a must for the busy working dad (or mom). State Street's program helps take the stress out of setting up some work-from-home time by requiring their managers to approach their employees about flexible work options. 6. Genentech Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: San Francisco, CA Number Of Employees: 14,000 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks Industry: Biotech Policy Highlight: Along with dedicated paid paternity time, Genentech also offers a sabbatical program for long-term employees. Every six years, you earn six months of time off—perfect for a long summer trip with the kids. 7. LinkedIn Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Mountain View, CA Number Of Employees: 6,800 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks Industry: Tech Policy Highlight: LinkedIn likes to encourage employees to think outside their cubicle and, in addition to "special projects" time once a month, you will get a $5,000 stipend for job-related education expenses. Maybe "Childcare 101" would qualify? 8. Arnold & Porter LLP Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Washington D.C. Number Of Employees: 1,284 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks (18 for primary caregiver) Industry: Legal Policy Highlights: If your spouse or partner is gainfully employed and you'd like to trade some of those work hours for family time, Arnold and Porter allows employees working at least 25 hours to qualify for benefits. The firm even has an expert panel on hand to help their lawyers make the switch to part-time. 9. Roche Diagnostics Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Indianapolis, IN (North American HQ) Number Of Employees: 4,500 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks Industry: Healthcare Policy Highlight: Roche employees have plenty of opportunities to teach Junior essential life lessons like how to swing a bat or grow a juicy tomato. The company spends $35,000 annually on sponsored extracurriculars like community sports leagues, and also offers an on-site employee produce garden. 10. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: New York, NY Number Of Employees: 41,000 (U.S.) Paid Parental Leave: 6 weeks (plus an additional 2 weeks if have or adopt more than one kid) Industry: Professional Services Policy Highlight: Another company that values ad-hoc work schedules, PwC allows employees work-from-home options as well as ""Flex Days." So if you can cram 40 hours of work into less than five days and clear your schedule, you could end up with more frequent three-day weekends and more time with the kids. Photo: Shutterstock