Creating Engaged Employees through Volunteering Programmes

Published on 2012-05-29

This event advises how companies should engage and encourage volunteerism and why such programmes benefit companies and their staff.

On Wednesday 16 May, the British Chamber of Commerce Shanghai invited Richard Brubaker, Founder of Collective Responsibility, and Roy Zhang, Senior Manager of Global Citizenship and Policy at Abbott China, to advise how companies should engage and encourage volunteerism and why such programmes benefit companies and their staff.

Originally, volunteering initiatives were managed centrally, via global HQs and there were very few channels through which one could give back. A recent trend – only witnessed in the past 5-8 years in China – has seen far more responsibility taken at the local level, with a much greater range and flexibility of options available. Firms gradually recognise the value not just as part of overall CSR objectives but also internally in terms of job satisfaction and team building (therefore staff retention). A key requirement for the success of such programmes is volunteer enjoyment and internal communication, as this will encourage people to come back and take ownership of the initiative.

In the 2nd half of the briefing, Roy Zhang highlighted the importance of expectation management, therefore advised against doing one-off events and recommended active involvement as opposed to simply donating cash. Realistic expectations of partnerships, mature capacity assessment, well-trained volunteers and strategic goals are crucial from the outset otherwise; things can quickly get out of control.

In total, Mr. Brubaker outlined seven general steps to success.

1) Answer the five Basic Questions

  • Who, what, when, where, and how much

2) Build program structure and plan
  • Build program framework, identify goals, and set clear expectations

3) Partners and Champions
  • Identify external partners who will support the program
  • Identify internal champions who will own the program, crucial for being proactive and driving things forward

4) Marketing and Trainings
  • Internally market opportunities to employees
  • Offer training / orientation to interested employees

5) Project Launch Pilot
  • If program is long term, or large scale, run a pilot program involving volunteer leaders

6) Internal Communications
  • Newsletters, website, and photo sharing of event success
  • Feedback opportunities for participants

7) Monitoring & Adjustment
  • Internally: revisit goals of employees and measure against program progress
  • Externally: Revisit partnership and assess true impact of program