In 2014 Russian business leaders established the national Council on corporate volunteerism, which includes more than three dozen major companies. The situation has arisen on the background of the economic crisis worsened the situation of a significant part of the population: “take advantage of the wealth, renting expensive restaurants and inviting stars, is not comme Il faut. The objective of the proper corporate event is to unite employees and give them the opportunity to talk informally. Therefore, voluntary actions fit here perfectly, because even Exupery said that if you want to teach two different people to respect each other, we must give them common cause”, – said the first Deputy Executive Director of the Association of Managers Vadim Kovalyov.
Companies have come to expect from such events, the development of horizontal connections, growth, engagement, motivation and loyalty of employees. But it’s hard to find a Manager who would like to achieve more for the same money; and, besides, for employees and for customers at the forefront, gradually there is a question of values. “80% of Millennials are one of the vital priorities is to make the world a better place, and they gravitate to brands that match this aspiration” – said Rob Candelino, CEO of Unilever Hair Care U. S. Corporate volunteering – an opportunity not word, and business prove that the company strives not only to increase profits.
However, volunteering is not a magic wand for business. There are many problems, starting with the formalization of censorship and “voluntary-compulsory” participation, ending with the inability of many non-profit organizations build productive relationships with companies. Let’s deal with everything in order.
How to unite the team
Once we are with work colleagues, dressed in armor, fought against historical reenactors, beating each other with steel swords and halberds. It would seem that can strengthen the team spirit is stronger? It turned out, a lot of that, and that is mainly a joint decision of important problems. I don’t remember who of my colleagues have backed me in the back when I pushed with steel-clad knights. But I do remember who showed integrity in that moment, when the stakes were real.
Corporate volunteering in the perception of people not as serious as a job, but much more real than what happens in a typical team-building events. Employees together solve a real problem: for example, in our project “Noon” with a special education teach pupils of children’s homes necessary for independent living social skills.
The problem not in the abstract meaningful, and that which is concerned with specific individuals – because participation is voluntary. Employees regularly work together, but there are informal and outside of hierarchies. They are disclosed as a person talking about important, argue, agree, overcome the difficulties. In this atmosphere of meeting between people from different divisions of the company become substantial, not Protocol. Of course, the employee will be more to trust someone with whom he had conducted trainings for adolescents crisis than the man who happened to be with him in one team on the high ropes course.
When corporate values – not just empty words
“When Moscow asked to cut their nails, beyond the Urals start to chop the hands”; “How you biruzov on a scale from 0 to Herman Gref?” – quote jokes with conferences on corporate culture is endless, but as you know, in every joke has some truth: working with values and corporate culture can not everywhere.
Corporate volunteering is an opportunity to talk with employees about company values, not washing their brains with empty set of stamps, engaging in this conversation people with leadership potential, who can become agents of change in the company. This is a great opportunity to learn what your people really are. After all, they will spend their personal time just for what is for them really important. Of course, this will have “povratiti” with them, but you will see what you do not show neither the focus group.
“It is easy to write a Manifesto, but how to make colleagues are imbued with what is written on paper? Take the example of environmental protection. No practical involvement in the care of nature will remain an abstraction. This year we partnered with the “Clean games” organized a team of eco-quest for employees and members of their families. This project combined two of Diageo core values: we value each other and we are proud that and how we do it: our people are not just cleaned parks, but doing it together with your loved ones in the format of an exciting competition,” says communications Manager and programmes for sustainable development Diageo Russia Darya Bobrova.
As said Abraham Lincoln, you can fool all the people some of the time or some people all the time, but always cheat and all will not work. Now, it seems, the time has come when advertising and assurances of the management almost ceased to act as clients and candidates – companies have to prove that they are on the “light side of the force”.
“We operate in an extremely competitive market, and the ability to attract the best people is crucial, – says the Deputy Director of Department of external communications “Rostelecom” Juliana Sokolenko. – Our employees have nearly 5 years to help carry out educational game “Half day” in children’s homes, and if at first we treated it as a social project, now we see the contribution of that activity to our employer brand”.
Problems of corporate volunteering
It would be unfair to pretend that corporate volunteering is all right. A few years ago, we carried out lectures and trainings in beautiful, with fanfare, the launch of the program in large Russian companies. I was in Moscow, a colleague from the region wrote in a telegram: “Here is an auditorium full of 200 people”. Once there is a KPI – there are power sleeves “volunteers”. In another Russian company did not use the whip, but the number of cakes, on which rested any “volunteering” translates it into the category of alternative of paid overtime. Perhaps I should admit that volunteering is not for all corporations.
Another big problem is the lack of understanding by staff of specific social activities. Many of the tasks that are trying to solve corporate volunteers, extremely serious, and the help of “folk methods” often brings only harm. For example, gifts who love to carry in children’s homes for the holidays only exacerbate the problems of adolescents. As a result, the company is a meaningful activity gets another performance, not bringing any benefit to the team or society.
“Corporate volunteering, as well as in the business as such, it is important that the energy of the people was aimed at solving or preventing problems, not masking the consequences, – considers the Vice-President Unilever corporate relations Irina Bakhtin. Therefore, between Christmas visits to children at home demonstration parties and help to Fund having a real psychological and material support to families who have adopted orphaned children, I without hesitation choose the latter.”
This difficulty helps to manage partnership with relevant nonprofit organization. Experts NGOs have accumulated a lot of experience and understanding of what works and what doesn’t. They usually have “the DNA of a volunteer” (ideology, attitude, set of skills and habits), such a strange enterprise managers who are accustomed to hierarchies, KPIs, rewards and punishment, but without which it is impossible to build a real volunteering.
Alas, not all NGOs is a universal lifesaver. We (“Game of the future”) organized by the program of corporate volunteering almost 4 years, working in most regions of Russia, and that’s the disappointing conclusion that with very few exceptions NGOs or knows how to solve a problem that does, or is able to work with business, that is de facto specific event-Agency under the guise of NGOs. Exceptions can be counted on the fingers. But five years ago, such organizations did not exist, and now new learn to cooperate successfully with corporations.
Corporate volunteering is not a panacea, and its use in companies is not always as easy as we would like. But if handled adroitly, it gives more advantages than the usual team-building.