Investing in Employee Experience - Engagement Through Volunteering
While more and more studies are being published that link employee engagement to volunteer experiences, Chris Jarvis of Realized Worth will tell you that too many companies are missing opportunities to truly engage their employees. Why? Because they are thinking about transaction rather than transformation.
Thinking ‘transaction’ often limits strategic focus to acknowledging existing employee behaviour. In contrast, a strategy that focuses on transformation encourages and celebrates new behaviours. When that relates to volunteering and giving, a transformational strategy would ideally result in employees giving more time to others – to other organizations and/or people. This giving might happen during work or non-working hours. It might happen during both.
How does that benefit the employer? The theory is compelling and interesting – but there is a need for more practical examples of companies experiencing benefits as a result of investing in a transformational strategy.
Enter ENMAX, a Calgary-based company that generates and sells electricity and natural gas to residential and commercial customers throughout Alberta.
ENMAX appreciates that many people face tough choices every month when it comes to bill payments and household necessities, including their energy needs. They believe that the best way to get involved is by supporting community organizations that have the expertise to help people manage during difficult times. This includes the United Way of Calgary and Area, who they have been a supporter of for over 18 years. To-date, they’ve raised more than $4.3 million dollars through an annual employee giving campaign and company matching. Their CEO, Gianna Manes, is also a strong supporter of the organization; she serves on their Board of Directors and was campaign co-chair in 2014.
ENMAX holds an annual United Way workplace campaign each year to raise money and connect employees with volunteer opportunities that help them learn about the needs of the community. In addition, in 2016 they began participating in the Sponsored Employee Volunteer Program, lending an employee to the United Way for a four-month term. Crystal Armstrong was a fitting candidate – as both an avid volunteer and someone who knew from personal experience the value of the organizations that the United Way supports – she was happy to give back.
Crystal joined 23 sponsored employees from other companies throughout the city and together their job was to encourage and promote corporate giving at companies across Calgary, helping the United Way to reach their 2016 campaign fundraising goal.
“It was a transformative experience,” she says of her four-month term. “I gained a much deeper understanding of the various needs in our community and I saw first-hand the significant impact that donations to the United Way can have on individuals and families.”
Her experience also enabled her to forge new connections with her colleagues at ENMAX. She was heavily involved in the company’s 2016 campaign, taking on a leadership role amongst the team of volunteers, and now acts as an ambassador at the company for others to consider the Sponsored Employee Volunteer Program.
Crystal summarizes the impact of her experience best. “The excitement and momentum of doing more boosted my confidence, and made me more able to positively influence those around me!”
So, why is focusing on transformation by investing in the Sponsored Employee Program of value to companies like ENMAX? As Crystal demonstrates, employees develop a greater understanding of the social issues affecting the community, a renewed sense of confidence and motivation, new skills and perspectives, an expanded professional network and their own greater leadership potential. Good value indeed.