Looking Back: The Best Signature Program of 2020

Jan 7, 2021 5:30 PM ET

Want to offer meaningful support to employees in these strange and uncertain times? Consider the example of health care company based north of Chicago that has succeeded not only in engaging employees through volunteerism, but also increased enthusiasm for their Signature Program and held a wildly successful virtual training despite the challenges of the pandemic. How are they doing it? And what best practices can you learn from as you plan for 2021? 

Before the pandemic of 2020, the global healthcare company Abbott had high hopes for their new, skills-based employee volunteer program. After many months of strategic planning, communications, training, and preparation, Future Well Kids launched in August of 2019. Highly engaged and well-trained Future Well Kids Volunteer Champions arrived with their volunteer teams at schools in 19 locations in 3 different countries. Together, they led kids ages 10-13 through curriculum to teach them how to develop healthy habits now to reduce their likelihood of developing chronic diseases. The program experienced quick success and by the end of the 2019 school year, the Volunteer Champions had expressed eager interest in coming back for year two. 

2020 started out strong, thanks to the processes and partners of the program. Senior Manager of Global Citizenship, Bree Vopelak, cites three essential decisions that laid the foundation for what would bolster the program successfully through the months to come: the right focus, the right partners and a realistic timeline. However, even with these three key decisions, adapting employee volunteer programs to the realities of a pandemic is not easy – especially when the program requires in-person implementation in schools. The challenges were large and looming, but we all stepped up to the challenge. Realized Worth partnered with Bree and her team to co-create a 2-day virtual Volunteer Champion training that would be one of the most engaging experiences of the employees’ year – virtual or otherwise.  

Read the full blog here to explore the top 4 lessons we learned with Abbott about training in a virtual world.