OUR WORKING AREA
Programs and Employee Volunteering
OUR WORKING AREA
Programs and Employee Volunteering
As Center for Social Innovation, we design corporate volunteering systems and projects with institutions and implement them together with their employees. While transforming the knowledge, skills and experiences of the employees of the institution into benefits for the social problem they have, we attach importance to the overlapping of the values of the institution and the employees.
Volunteering and social responsibility is no longer just a working area for non-governmental organizations. The private sector also provides important opportunities in solving social problems with its human resources, information, technology, products and services. In its most general sense, corporate volunteering can be defined as the voluntary submission of employees’ time, knowledge, effort and relationships for the solution of social problems.
From the 1960s onwards, corporate volunteerism began to be seen first in the USA and then in other countries through multinational companies. The civil rights movement seen in America in those years played an important role in this. In that process, volunteering started to turn into a civic duty that should be done not only in civil society and private areas, but also in all areas of life. This was followed by the entry of the new generation, who had volunteered at their own universities since the 70s, into the business world. Generations that attach importance to volunteering and social responsibility outside of business life have begun to expect the same sensitivity in their companies. Towards the end of the 70s, the corporate volunteering program of more than 300 companies started to work.
Today, private sector employees contribute to the solution of social problems starting from their education period and carry out individual volunteering activities. They carry these sensitivities to their business life, making their companies sensitive to the problems of the society they are in; moreover, they care that they see and show that they are not only sensitive, but also an active social stakeholder in the solution of these problems. This is where corporate volunteering comes into play. These studies, which a few employees started as social responsibility activities, spread throughout the company over time and become planned, programmed and sustainable activities.
Corporate Volunteering in Turkey
Corporate volunteering has also entered Turkey’s agenda since the 2000s. Particularly, the social mobilization that emerged in the 1999 earthquake contributed a lot to this. Volunteering activities of the employees, which became widespread with the disaster response processes, continued with different activities and aid activities. The spread of corporate social responsibility activities in the same period increased the visibility of these issues within the company. However, it is difficult to say that corporate volunteering studies have reached a sufficient level. Instead of sustainable programs with a certain participation and working systematic; There are practices that are mainly designed in the form of event-based aid activities and are carried out with the effort and energy of a few employees. Of course, there are also few but effective volunteer programs.
When we look at the field, the most positive development is that companies’ quest to carry out their volunteering activities as a more effective and participatory process has increased significantly. Many companies have started to take steps to develop innovative programs that enable different participation processes and are integrated with business processes and sustainability strategies.
Benefits of Corporate Volunteering
Employee satisfaction and loyalty have become an important issue for companies, like customer satisfaction, in terms of sustainability. New generations have begun to seek more meaning in their relationships with their companies. The personnel turnover rate in companies where the corporate affiliation is not strong has begun to force the companies. Employees now expect their companies to generate social benefits as well as economic value, and they want to be involved in this process. Studies show that when such an environment is provided, employees are happier, healthier and have a higher sense of corporate belonging. While such a working environment causes the personnel to stay in the company for longer years and increase their motivation; on the other hand, it makes positive contributions such as getting the return on personnel investments such as training for a longer period of time, keeping the experienced personnel and the know-how in the institution.
Corporate volunteering has gained more importance day by day as an important catalyst in the formation of this belonging. In other words, the demands and expectations of the personnel and the needs of the company came together at one point. As a result, today, more than 90% of Fortune 500 companies have an employee volunteering program. In fact, volunteering approaches that have started to bring together not only employees but also suppliers and customers on a common ground are now prominent.
Companies are now seeing the limits and some negative consequences of event-based volunteering, which is done without a corporate volunteering program that has all processes studied. For this reason, they want to create volunteer programs where they will do more corporate work, but they are hesitant to go beyond the existing limits. When you see volunteering as a top-down, out-of-hours business with limited financial contribution to the company, it has no appeal for employees. If an employee carries out a social activity in his private time with the resources and relationships he has created, it is not possible to talk about the contribution of the company here.
Corporate volunteering programs should have a management approach in which employees are active, managed in a participatory manner, and different forms of volunteering can be implemented simultaneously. Volunteers should be able to participate in the process with their own preferences, forms of volunteering suitable for their work and life rhythms, and be able to volunteer during working hours; companies, on the other hand, should support the process financially and administratively, appoint a certain staff – at least for a certain amount of time of work – and encourage and promote volunteering staff. As a matter of fact, many companies today establish democratic and participatory volunteer programs that will facilitate the volunteering processes of their employees, support volunteers financially and morally, determine a certain hour of volunteering per year within the framework of human resources, and sometimes donate to the projects of their volunteering employees or to the NGOs they volunteer.
As Center for Social Innovation, we have carried out studies with different dimensions with various companies. First of all, there is a need to make it clear that corporate volunteering, like other internal business processes, is a corporate process with a specific purpose, method, practice and monitoring-evaluation dimensions. It is important to see the plan, program, human and financial resources, and management processes as a holistic corporate process and to establish a sustainable structure focused on employees, not efficiency. Involving the employees in the process from the design stage, positioning it as a part of the corporate sustainability strategy, and correctly constructing its relations with business processes are among other important points.