Corporate Volunteering for the 2020’s

PRESS reset for a corporate volunteering programme fit for today’s and tomorrow’s employees’ and society’s expectation

By Amanda Bowman, Corporate Volunteering Lead at Emerging World.

How annoying is it when your computer becomes sluggish and programs aren’t working as smoothly as they did a while back? And then, if you’re like me and you call for support, the ever-so helpful person at the end of the phone recommends a restart/reset on the basis that this will refresh and update ‘stuff’ in the background to get you back to peak performance. For the next two minutes, put aside any scepticism and consider whether this might also be true of your corporate volunteering programme.

How can companies ensure that their corporate volunteering programmes are fit for purpose for today’s and tomorrow’s workforce? Some elements of the programme may still be working but one thing’s for sure: expectations from employees are changing. For example, millennials overwhelmingly state that they want to make a difference to issues that they care about and research shows that they prefer to volunteer with their colleagues. They’re also looking for new and different ways of dealing with the stresses of balancing work and life – and volunteering is seen as part of that. Equally, employees want to bring their whole selves to their workplace each day and not to leave their values at the front door.

Expectations of the role of business in society are also changing. Take the recent Business Roundtable announcement when almost 200 CEOs signed up to a Statement that outlines a ‘modern standard for corporate responsibility’ showing the essential role that companies have in meeting the needs of all stakeholders and supporting the communities in which they work. We also see it in the way that companies are embracing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the sophistication in how companies are working in partnership with their stakeholders, leveraging all resources – including the time and talent of employees to help achieve the Goals.

Corporate Volunteering now has an established place in many companies’ portfolio of corporate responsibility approaches. However, our experience of working with international companies shows us that that they are challenged to meet modern demands at a global level with opportunities for everyone that align with broader business objectives. We recognise that programmes need to be reset, recharged and rebooted to meet these changing expectations. The new standard for Corporate Volunteering for the 2020s or what we call CV20² builds on the best of what we’ve seen in existing corporate volunteering programmes and includes a set of five Principles for all employees, everywhere – an overall strategy and approach. These Principles can be applied to an existing volunteering programme to augment what’s already working. Or they can be used to target a particular employee group (e.g. Senior Executives or graduate intake). PRESS reset for a CV20² Programme that is:

  • Partner focused with opportunities that are designed to meet partners’ real needs. When programmes are designed to meet real partner needs, we see strong results from employees in terms of breadth and depth of learning, employee engagement, business impact, responsible leadership and connection to corporate and personal Purpose
  • Reciprocal in terms of learning – where employees and partners learn from each other so that the volunteering is authentic, balanced and that any outcomes and impact are sustained
  • Engaging employees by building culture, morale, motivation, pride and productivity. Recent research shows that 81% of employees were inspired to contribute more to their roles after they return from volunteering
  • Skills-based and leverages the talents and skills of employees. The recently published CISL Impact Benchmark Study shows that when participants feel that their partners have a real need for their skills and expertise, they are more likely to report developments across a range of 12 leadership competencies and behaviours identified as important for successful global leadership. And
  • Strategically embedded, helping to achieve business objectives and aligned with corporate Purpose. Our Study showed that 73% of employees reported increased alignment with their company’s objectives and priorities and 80% agreed that participation improved their understanding of the corporate Purpose.

Applying these Principles to your CV20² programme will take your employees far from their normal day to day experience and give them opportunities to stretch and build their personal potential. Designed well and the programme will empower both your employees and community partners, building confidence and understanding as well as a stronger bond with your business. Employees will return refreshed and refocused to apply the skills they’ve learnt through volunteering. Your employees will be tackling the societal issues they care about and those that matter to your business – leveraging company resources and expertise to deliver more impact through the collective power of the companies and employees working in together in common cause than they ever could on their own.

Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing the perspectives of a group of leading practitioners in global organisations who demonstrate the kind of approach we advocate for in CV20² in a unique blog series.

These practitioners, who all come together as part of a Best Practice Group that Emerging World facilitates, will explain how they are engaging the passion, affinity and adaptiveneness of employees to deliver real transformation and CV20² impact.

We look forward to sharing this with you and to mobilising the power that this new approach to corporate volunteering brings to tackle the challenges that face us as a society. So please look out for the blog pieces and subscribe to the blog feed here.

If you’d like to understand more about this approach please contact me to arrange a call.