Values. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot in corporate communications, so much so that it’s easy to associate it with mission statements, policies, and other business considerations. But for your employees, the word values encompasses everything that matters to them, from engagement with their job to time with their family to finding a personal sense of meaning and fulfillment through volunteer work.
Your company might have many different programs designed to increase employee engagement, with flexible time off and a wide range of perks. But for a company culture to truly engage its employees, it must recognize every aspect of their lives and treat them as learning, growing individuals.
While there are many companies that give back, we’re impressed with the the ways that these five companies have taken community outreach to the next level. Their volunteer programs and corresponding benefits help their employees make a difference—both in their communities and in the wider world.
1. United by Blue
This retail company began with a mission: reduce the staggering eight million tons of plastic that enter the ocean each year. Not only do they use recycled plastic and nylon to create their clothing and accessories, but they also organize waterway cleanups all across the US. For every product sold, they pledge to remove one pound of trash from the nation’s rivers, ponds, streams, and coasts.
At this provider of virtualization software, they’ve learned that when employees give service, they learn new things and improve as a result. To reflect this insight, VMware has a special name for their volunteer program: service learning. With their Good Gigs program, VMware sends employees to volunteer at nonprofit organizations, providing needed help and expertise. After a personally fulfilling month of service, the employees return and share new insights with the company, helping them strengthen their offerings.
3. Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk leads the way when it comes to providing paid time off for volunteer work—the company provides eighty hours per year for each employee. Their dedicated Novo Nordisk Social Awareness Team organizes community service projects—often coordinating them with the company’s offsite meetings—and their TakeAction portal connects employees with opportunities to serve. And these projects often go hand in hand with their mission of healthy living, whether it’s organizing food drives in the local community or supporting hemophilia care for populations in developing countries.
At this Michigan-based medical technologies company, employees get up to forty hours in paid volunteering time, and many of them choose to spend it helping Operation Smile provide free procedures to children needing cleft lip and cleft palate surgery. In 2015, Stryker sent a team of its employees to Bolivia on an all-expenses-paid trip to support 115 new smiles, with a supporting fundraising campaign raising funds for 160 surgeries.
5. PCL Construction
Another example of a company using its strengths for volunteer work, PCL Construction sets a goal of eighteen hours of volunteer work per employee per year. They participate in Habitat for Humanity home builds and local events like the Brother’s Development Paint-A-Thon, and they organize volunteer days at other local charities. PCL Construction recognizes its employees with a volunteer recognition luncheon, where employees can win $200 for the charity of their choice.
Each of these companies reaches out to their communities in a different way, but they all share one common trend: a culture that engages employees, increases camaraderie, and attracts talent. Supporting a culture of volunteering at your company is about more than just good PR. A culture of service provides stronger connections between you, your employees, your target market, and the community at large. These connections are essential for recruiting Millennials, who want to know their contribution doesn’t end at bringing home a paycheck. Combine good compensation and benefits with strong social relationships and the joy of service, and you create an environment where the best people stay.
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