April 18, 2017

Create a Community of Volunteers Within Your Company this National Volunteer Month

I just hung up the phone from talking with a very special regular caller.

Mario calls every week to check in on his Ceridian Cares application. First, he called to ask about whether he could apply. Then he called to ask about how to fill in the application. Then the call was to let me know he sent the application. The following week he called to see if we had received his application. Then he checked in to track progress. Last week I was happy to inform him that his application had been approved! This week he called to ask about how the service provider will get paid. Next week he’ll probably call to let me know he received the very item that launched his relationship with us, Ceridian Cares.

To some, this weekly call might be just another interruption to their daily routine. They might ask, “why can’t he just read the instructions on the website, trust in the process, and wait for our response?” But for me, it is an honour to speak with Mario (and others like him). Representing the hard-earned dollars that our employees raise to give back to their communities, talking over the phone with folks like Mario, is by far, the best part of my job.

Ceridian Cares is a charity that gives grants to people in need. It’s our way to give where we live, and make a concrete difference in the lives of hundreds of people every year.

Back to Mario, with his diligence and weekly calls, you might think he was requesting a big ticket item, costing thousands of dollars. Actually, Mario needs new orthotics – perhaps totaling around $300. While not an exorbitant amount of money to many, to Mario it’s a major expense – and it’s something that will dramatically improve his quality of life, enabling him to walk around with less pain in his feet. Over the phone, I can feel that this is a big deal for him.

Calls from folks like Mario make my day special, but you don’t have to operate a charity to make your days at work meaningful. Volunteering is another great way to give back and add value to your time at work.

Last year, in addition to the more than one thousand Ceridian Cares grant applications processed by employees in Canada, our employees volunteered thousands of hours giving back. These hours were spent operating our charity, meeting with recipients, arranging fundraising events, and volunteering at events in the community where my colleagues use their paid Dave MacKay Volunteer Day.

April is National Volunteer Month in North America. Use it as an opportunity to drive volunteerism and have a real impact on your talent management strategy with these tips:

Have a volunteerism communications strategy

Communicate your programs effectively and consider who comprises the majority of your audience and how they prefer to hear about your efforts. The vast majority of millennial women account for brands’ social responsibility in purchasing decisions, according to Cone Communications. Also, did you know that young females prefer stories over data when it comes to impactful forms of communication. Be sure to share our how your activities will impact or have impacted the community. Millennial men tend to be more data-driven when it comes to the kind of messages that attract them. Male members of Generation Y think videos, games, and infographics are the most effective ways to spread the word about volunteerism. At Ceridian we use a combination of these approaches and feature the impact we have on the community on social media and through stories on our intranet.

Have clear policies in place for volunteer time

Executives know the value of offering volunteer opportunities to employees, but do your managers? Or others who will be directly affected by employees being absent for their volunteer time in the community? In the execution of volunteer programs, it’s important to consider the impact on day-to-day operations. Having clear guidelines on volunteer hours will ensure that employees, their managers, and senior leaders aren’t hesitant to take advantage of the benefits of a day spent volunteering. Provide the option of volunteering both on and off the clock. If you have the volunteer time scheduled during the work day, it can really connect colleagues. You might notice that participation is highest if done this way. Communicating all of the details, well in advance, to all parties, even those who chose not to participate and are covering operations at work, is key to the success of your volunteerism initiatives.

Focus on specific causes that speak to your people

While it would be great to support every cause you care about, this approach can potentially dilute your efforts and time. Instead, develop a portfolio of social causes which aligns with your corporate values and stay dedicated to them. Have employees focus their efforts on those philanthropic efforts. Create a diverse committee of employees from all levels of the organization to assist with developing the portfolio. This way you will ensure that the values of many are being considered.

Make volunteering easy and recognize those who give back

Encourage your people to use their volunteer time, not only because giving back feels good, but because it’s a chance to get to know their teammates better and have fun. Consider setting up a volunteer hub or portal like YourCause where your people can sign in and view activities in their area. Consider paying the entrance fee for a walk/run event that your people are fundraising for and provide team t-shirts so they can represent your organization proudly at the event. Applaud the volunteer work your people do with rewards or the opportunity to blog about the cause they believe in. Shout out to HCM superhero Zain Jaffery, Ceridian’s inaugural winner of the Dave MacKay Employee Achievement Award for his recent blog post, “Inspire one, they’ll inspire a movement”.

Developing your culture through giving back will result in a community within your organization. People who work together on a human level are building relationships that will ultimately enhance their work experience, which (in addition to meeting sales targets and producing real results for investors) is also an important employer responsibility. Consider ramping up your volunteerism programs this month. After all, it’s both good for the soul (take Zain’s word for it) and good for your company.

Kelly Allder

As Vice President of People Programs, Kelly is responsible for HR technology and HR programs that help enhance the efficiency, effectiveness and collaboration of employees and managers. Kelly is also Executive Director of Ceridian Cares, Ceridian’s very own charity, overseeing the daily operations and national committees that give grants to people in need.

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