Categorized | Workplace

Great Companies Give Something Back

Posted on 27 May 2009

Employee volunteers can make a difference.

Employees want to impact more than just the bottom line; they want to know if their hard work is making a difference in customers’ lives. More and more people are also looking to make an impact in the world around them–and companies are giving them the chance to do that.

According to John B. Izzo, co-author of VALUES SHIFT: The New Work Ethic & What it Means for Business, a new work ethic is emerging, a set of values about work and its place in our lives. If people are going to work longer hours at more multifaceted jobs, they need more than money as an incentive to stay. There is a widespread desire to find work that serves a noble cause.

A recent study found that 86 percent of the graduating MBA students in North America would rather be paid adequately for productive work than make a ton of money at a superfluous job. A worldwide Millennium Poll on Social Responsibility by Environics International asked more than 25,000 people in 23 countries to list factors that make up their impressions of companies. The majority cited business ethics, environmental impact, and responsibility to society at large.

Corporate Missions Evolve
A 1998 Gallup study investigated the creation of engaged, active employees. It found that employees were much more in touch with their work if the following statement rang true: “The mission (or mission statement) of this company makes me feel like my job is important.” So, how are some corporate missions meeting this need?

This started because of our company was growing, and we wanted to get people out from behind their desk in a way that would benefit the community.

IKEA, the upstart furniture supplier, has indicated to consumers that they’re not just in it for the money. IKEA wants “to provide a better everyday life for the majority of people.”

AES, a large power company, claims to be “committed to meeting the world’s needs for electricity in a socially responsible manner.” AES Employees have planted over a million trees in Latin America and pledged five percent of their after-tax profits to socially responsible causes.

In the past, companies used donations to demonstrate their philanthropy. Now, Izzo reports, there is more “hands-on” activity available through volunteer work. Many companies allow employees to take time off from work to volunteer. Matching corporate contributions are becoming commonplace. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity, which builds affordable housing for the disadvantaged, have benefited greatly.

Izzo continues: “Corporate executives are asking themselves, ‘What’s the real difference our organization makes in the world?’ They’re re-evaluating how they can meet the needs of the world and their local communities.”

Employee Volunteer Work
At Computer Associates International (CA), headquartered in New York, every dollar that an employee donates to charity will be matched by two dollars from the company. CA raised more than $7 million and supported more than 4,000 organizations. Lisa Platania, Executive Director of Community Relations, believes that CA is trying “to help children build the confidence they need to succeed and to positively impact community life.”

In addition to matching charitable gifts, CA has an Employee Volunteer program. Over the past two years, 15 percent of CA’s 18,000 employees worldwide have gotten involved. “This started because our company was growing,” Platania says, “and we wanted to get people out from behind their desk in a way that would benefit the community. We have gotten our people involved in community service–and in touch with employees they might never have been in contact with.”

CA teamed up with Family Service League (FSL) and KaBOOM! to build the Kiddie Korner Playground in Bay Shore, New York. KaBOOM! is a national non-profit organization that brings communities and corporations together by building needed playgrounds. The Kiddie Korner Playground will serve more than 100 pre-school children in the community.

“Our Community Relations program supports non-profit organizations and educational institutions to help children build the confidence they need to succeed,” Platania reports. “We are proud to be able to add to the prosperity and well-being of our local communities.”

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  1. Live Your Why » An Unexpected Answer says:

    [...] older I developed more of a social conscious and an understanding that real fulfillment comes from giving something back. In London I was lucky enough to work for a wonderful company who paid for me to see a life coach [...]

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