How To Make Giving And Community Service Cornerstones Of Your Culture


In this Point of View, Ultimate Software Chief People Officer Vivian Maza, details why “cultures of giving” are good for your company’s workers, talent pipeline– and business.

As we approach a new year, volunteering and other acts of giving are top of mind for many companies and employees. During the season of giving, we’re reminded of the importance of charity, and when we give as a company, there’s a trickle-down, “feel good” effect felt by those who participate.

There’s also research on the psychological impacts of giving. Recent research by Deloitte found that employers that offer opportunities to give back see increased morale and improved workplace atmosphere, with 89 percent of employees saying organizations that sponsor volunteer activities create a better working environment.

When companies help others as a group, there's a trickle-down "feel-good" effect on all of the employees involved. @UltimateHCM @UltimMaza #HR #HRTribe Share on X

While volunteering has been part of our company’s culture since our founding 28 years ago, a shift has occurred throughout the business world. Corporate social responsibility and volunteer work, both with colleagues and in employees’ personal time, have become important factors in everything from engagement and happiness to bottom-line results. Giving is now a critical ingredient in building a positive corporate culture.

Younger workers value volunteering and the opportunity to contribute to local and global communities even more highly than their predecessors. Millennials (who will make up 75 percent of the total workforce by 2025) have made their priorities especially clear. In fact, three-quarters of millennials surveyed would actually take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company.

A culture of giving is good for your people, your talent pipeline and your business. Most importantly, it can make a tangible, positive impact on your community and the world at large. If one of your resolutions for the New Year is to make volunteering a cornerstone of your organization in 2020, here are a few ways to get started.

Let Your Employees Lead The Way

It can be overwhelming to choose one cause over another to support, as there is no shortage of people and organizations doing incredible good in the world. So, talk first with your people. What are they passionate about, and what organizations do they already support or volunteer for in their personal time? You can find out via employee surveys or encourage managers and team leads to raise the topic informally.

Listen to your employees to learn what causes and organizations matter to them, and then dedicate company time and resources to support those causes—whether through direct donations, donation matching or service days. This will not only go a long way toward keeping volunteering front and center at your company, but it will also foster a stronger sense of community and connection from leadership down as employees are able to learn more about their peers and what they value.

Offer A Variety Of Options To Optimize Giving

There are seemingly endless ways that companies can build giving into the day-to-day employee experience. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new options to understand what drives the most engagement among your people.

Offering organized service days—specific dates throughout the year when your company focuses on a shared, pre-arranged volunteering effort—are an excellent option for businesses of any size. Smaller companies will likely find it easier on customers and employees to close for a morning or afternoon and volunteer. You can make a meaningful difference at a localized nonprofit, while larger organizations spread across multiple offices can create a sense of cross-country, cross-departmental unity through shared service. Consider even partnering with your customers and their employees to maximize your impact.

You can also empower employees to make regular donations to charitable causes and offer company matching to increase giving within your organization. On a companywide level, allow employees to vote on an organization to gift a portion of your company’s annual revenue. This is another great way to involve employees and support the greater community.

Keep It Simple

We are lucky to live in a time when a number of technologies have emerged that make giving as easy as clicking a button. Crowdfunding sites, for example, allow anyone to easily set up a page and collect donations, and some social media sites now have built-in platforms to simplify the giving process. There are tools available that enable donations via text, giving employees the ability to contribute directly from their mobile phones.

Our own developers created an internal giving page our people can reach quickly and easily through their employee portal. We route all our companywide giving campaigns through this platform, and employees can donate through a simple, three-step process that pulls funds directly from their paychecks.

Think Beyond Monetary Gifts—Leverage Your Talent

Businesses can give financially and through volunteer hours. But what can your organization offer beyond traditional means? How can your employees’ special talents help make an impact?

Allow employees to use their skills outside of their normal responsibilities to drive new levels of creativity and engagement among your teams, while empowering them to give in meaningful ways. For example, at Ultimate we recently partnered with FearlesslyGIRL, an international organization focused on taking a stand against bullying and dedicated to creating a “Kinder Girl World” in schools and communities. When we learned that the FearlesslyGIRL team needed a better mobile app, we offered to donate the expertise and time of our innovation and product development teams to help. The team now meets weekly, spending volunteer time to collaborate and code a new platform.

We all have special talents we can contribute to our communities. I hope you’re inspired to make giving not just a once-yearly event, but a true cornerstone of your culture.

Vivian Maza has served as chief people officer at Ultimate Software since 2004. Previously, she was Ultimate’s office manager since the company’s inception in 1990. Before joining Ultimate, she was a systems analyst for the wholesale division of ADP. This article was originally published in Forbes. Based in Weston, Fla., Ultimate Software is a sponsor of the HCM Technology Report. To learn more, click here.

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