While the CSR Bill is a significant development, companies must define policies that allow employees the opportunity, resources and network to serve the community, even when at the workplace
“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” This statement by Henry Ford is probably more relevant today than ever before.
With evolving awareness among corporates about their responsibility towards the society, employee volunteer programmes have emerged as an integral component in today’s work culture. With a desire to maintain perfect work-life balance, corporate-sponsored volunteer programmes help employees step out of their daily routines and get a much-needed insight into other facets of life.
Engaging employees through meaningful community service initiatives breaks the walls of hierarchy and makes people come together in the common interest of a community goal, creating a bond amongst people from different backgrounds and work-streams. Such experiences often leave a lasting impact on the employee and leave her feeling enriched. Volunteer programmes also are opportunities for employees to hone their skills and acquire new ones.
Tracking the results of such employee volunteer programmes is necessary. It helps management understand whether the intended goal was met or not and the kind of qualitative and quantitative impact it has seated.
Studies have shown that when employees participate in such initiatives, it leads to a sense of fulfilment, which helps them perform better at workplace. Long-term benefits of such initiatives often reflect in less attrition. Further, such initiatives help employees understand the company’s commitment to the communities they live and work with.
The introduction of the CSR Bill, which encourages companies to support community outreach initiatives, is a major development. But, besides this, companies on an individual level must define policies that allow employees the opportunity, resources and network to serve the community, even when at the workplace.
Such employee engagement, in fact, is the essence of Ford Volunteer Corps. Since 2005, thousands of Ford employees, retirees and dealers have participated in 9,000 Ford Volunteer Corps projects in 48 countries. This has resulted in over 1 million hours of community service and $24 million of investment equivalent. While Ford Volunteer Corps is active the year around—engaging with neighbouring communities as part of long-term interventions under Ford’s Operation Better World programme—the most significant effort comes every September when thousands of employees get together for the annual Global Week of Caring. To mark the tenth anniversary of Ford Volunteer Corps, the entire month of September is being celebrated as Global Caring Month by Ford across the world.
Besides building a strong business, Henry Ford also envisioned a better world. Indeed, this is what all corporates should strive for—a better world for future generations, which can be brought alive through sustained engagement with and involvement of employee-volunteers.
By George Elisseou
The author is HR director at Ford India. Views are personal