The True Value of Corporate Volunteering
24 May 2017 at 8:25 am
Corporate volunteering programs promise a range of commercial and community benefits. Naomi Barson, marketing manager for GoodCompany, asks top employers about the true value they realise from their volunteering programs.
Those of us working in the CSR sector are often accused of drinking our own cool-aid. And I agree – nothing tastes sweeter than a glass full of “doing good, makes good business sense”. So I decided to take a step back and ask three of Australia’s most progressive companies – Optus, IAG and AGL – to explain what CSR and in particular volunteering has to offer.
Daniel Murray, senior manager of the IAG Foundation, has evaluated the impact of skilled volunteering through interviews, surveys and workshops. He’s found that professional volunteering builds skills in three key areas; empathy, adaptability and agility, as represented in the diagram below.
These skills are intimately linked to IAG staff delivering in their roles, collaborating with team mates and connecting with customers. Volunteering experiences enhance performance.This sentiment is shared by AGL, where staff are given one paid day a year to volunteer to support community causes and charitable organisations.
“Our people are genuinely surprised and overwhelmed by what they can achieve in a day and the positive impact,” explains Marg Mitchell, manager corporate responsibility.
“As well as delivering social outcomes for the community, volunteering provides business benefits to AGL by engaging employees, promoting teamwork and building morale.”
Mitchell details that volunteering provides very humbling experiences for AGL staff.
“It opens their eyes. Charity workers inspire us and teach us about passion, empathy and support – life skills that we all need when engaging with our customers, fellow employees and our community,” she says.
Of all the methods for increasing employee engagement, workplace philanthropy is one of the most praised.
“CSR is a key driver of staff engagement at Optus,” explains Helen Maisano, associate director, community, Group Sustainability.
Reflecting on volunteering, Helen articulates that: “Coming together as a team to make a positive community impact can help unite teams, give them a shared sense of purpose and help break down silos. Volunteering enables us to create shared value, engage our people and enable them to contribute to causes close to their hearts.”
Ultimately, consensus is that what most engages employees is what inspires them, and inspiration comes from a culture of giving back in a personal and meaningful way. Volunteering is a key component of a robust giving program. Alone, it offers a range of measurable and impactful benefits, both at the office and in the community. When volunteering is offered in conjunction with workplace giving and fundraising, and staff are empowered to choose how they give, to charities that they care about, engagement is amplified further. Giving programs enhance employee engagement, which positively impacts hearts and bottom lines.
About the author: Naomi Barson is the marketing manager for GoodCompany and Karma Currency Foundation. She has a diverse marketing and communications background, having run the Ferrari Press Conference for Shell, set up the Corporate Communications function at SEEK and managed the largest ever crowdfunding campaign at STREAT. She followed her heart to the social enterprise sector and sleeps soundly knowing that her energies and professional skills are having a positive impact in the world. She has travelled to 30 countries, loves camping, crafting and chasing her sons.
GoodCompany delivers world-class integrated giving programs including workplace giving, donating, volunteering and fundraising.