HEART of giv­ing V

Vol­un­teer­ing pro­grammes are help­ing com­pa­nies reach out to so­ci­ety and aid­ing staff de­vel­op­ment

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Guide - - CAREERSMART - Van­dana Ram­nani van­dana. ram­[email protected] hin­dus­tan­times. com

ijashankar, head of In­tel’s cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­vi­sion in Ben­galuru, of­ten takes two to three days off from work to vol­un­teer at the In­sti­tute of Ap­plied Der­ma­tol­ogy that has de­vel­oped a unique in­te­grated treat­ment pro­to­col for ele­phan­ti­a­sis in the re­mote vil­lage of Kasar­god, 300 km from Ben­galuru. The 12-hour overnight jour­ney by bus re­ju­ve­nates him. He helps out the hospi­tal as part of his com­pany’s skill-based vol­un­teer­ing ini­tia­tive that in­volves pre­par­ing con­tent for their web­site, help­ing them make pre­sen­ta­tions for do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional fora. “Be­sides al­low­ing me to take leave, my com­pany al­lows for work­load flex­i­bil­ity. I can work, clock hours, sit­ting at Kasar­god while help­ing with the hospi­tal staff,” he says.

Many or­gan­i­sa­tions, both In­dian and MNCs, take in­ter­est in CSR ( cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity) ini­tia­tives and al­lo­cate a cer­tain yearly bud­get for the same. “Some com­pa­nies are even hir­ing in-house ex­perts to en­sure that the money is be­ing spent in the de­sired way,” says Vishal Chib­ber, di­rec­tor, HR, Kelly Ser­vices In­dia.

Many com­pa­nies en­cour­age em­ploy­ees to vol­un­teer and par- tic­i­pate in the or­gan­si­a­tions’ ini­tia­tives, causes or even start on their own out­side the or­gan­i­sa­tion in their re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties. Since these ac­tiv­i­ties are purely vol­un­tary and for the com­mon good, it is not seen as a means to grade or at­tach mon­e­tary/non-mon­e­tary in­cen­tives to it to pro­mote em­ploy­ees in­volve­ment, adds Chib­ber.

How em­ploy­ees ben­e­fit

How do these ini­tia­tives help em­ploy­ees? On the per­sonal de­vel­op­ment front, em­ploy­ees gain crit­i­cal skills work­ing with com­mu­ni­ties, de­velop the abil­ity to re­late to oth­ers and get bet­ter at com­mu­ni­ca­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tive work­ing and us­ing their skills in new and of­ten chal­leng­ing con­texts that stretches their creativ­ity and re­source­ful­ness and fos­ters in­no­va­tion. “It also leads to team­build­ing and leads to a sense of achieve­ment and pride. A lot of these pos­i­tive im­pacts are brought back to the work­place. Around 60-65% of our em­ploy­ees par­tic­i­pate through­out the year in such ac­tiv­i­ties. In some cases, for ev­ery hour that an in­di­vid­ual does vol­un­tary work with an or­gan­i­sa­tion, a match­ing con­tri­bu­tion of $20 is given by In­tel,” says Ashutosh Chadha, di­rec­tor, cor­po­rate af­fairs group, In­tel South Asia.

Dell em­ploy­ees are recog- nised for their vol­un­teer time through a global em­ployee recog­ni­tion pro­gramme. For ev­ery 10 vol­un­teer hours per quar­ter, team mem­bers are awarded a cause card of $150, which can be gifted to a char­ity through the com­pany’s on­line vol­un­teer­ing plat­form, Make a Dif­fer­ence. In 2011, more than 1,500 peo­ple from Tar­get In­dia vol­un­teered in more than 50 events, reach­ing more than 2,500 chil­dren, says Molly Geller­man, HR di­rec­tor.

The driv­ing force

Mo­hini Daljeet Singh, head, Max In­dia Foun­da­tion, which is the driver of the vol­un­teer­ing cam­paign, points out that keep­ing with the com­pany’s health mis­sion, the aim is to in­volve em­ploy­ees in health­care-re­lated vol­un­teer­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. Ini­tia­tives in­clude pre­ven­tive health for chil­dren, im­mu­ni­sa­tion for chil­dren, free high- end surg­eries and treat­ments in hos­pi­tals and or­gan­is­ing health camps.

IT, con­sult­ing and BPO ma­jor Cog­nizant pro­motes the cause of ed­u­ca­tion for un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren through its pro­gramme called Out­reach. Since 2007, more than 20,000 em­ploy­ees have con­trib­uted to the Out­reach ini­tia­tives. In 2011, they clocked over 100,000 hours of vol­un­teer­ing ef­forts.

Cog­nizant’s vol­un­teers span across hi­er­ar­chies, rang­ing from trainees to vice pres­i­dents. While the or­gan­i­sa­tion ac­tively recog­nises the vol­un­tary con­tri­bu­tions of em­ploy­ees, vol­un­teer­ing is not a part of the ap­praisal sys­tem. Con­tri­bu­tions, how­ever, are recog­nised. In 2010, two of the vol­un­teers were in­vited by the CEO to ring the NAS­DAQ open­ing bell in New York, in recog­ni­tion of their out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to the com­mu­nity. Some are even given prize money to ex­e­cute an ed­u­ca­tional project of their choice.

The com­pany also con­ducted a so­cial au­dit of its key ini­tia­tives of 2010 across var­i­ous stake­hold­ers, whose find­ings were: 57% vol­un­teers re­ported im­proved work per­for­mance due to vol­un­teer­ing, 82.4% vol­un­teers felt vol­un­teer­ing in­crease their aware­ness of so­cial is­sues and de­sire to help so­ci­ety. The founders of five of the six grass­roots groups at Cog­nizant started their own so­cial ini­tia­tives af­ter join­ing the com­pany and get­ting in­spired by Out­reach ac­tiv­i­ties, says Ar­chana Raghu­ram, di­rec­tor, Cog­nizant Out­reach.

Em­ploy­ees at Zoho sup­port chil­dren in need of qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion. Such chil­dren are as­sisted with school fees, books/note­books and uni­forms. Re­cently, a group of Zoho em­ploy­ees vol­un­teered to clean up a neigh­bour­hood in Velach­ery, Chen­nai.

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