by Stacey Chiocchio, Corporate Social Responsibility Project Manager at Hypertherm
Every year all associates at our company participate in an engagement survey that helps us understand where our opportunities and accomplishments are. For the last several years the strongest positive driver of engagement has been our organization’s focus on corporate social responsibility principles, specifically our commitment to our communities and the environment. Our volunteering benefit is the cornerstone to our community engagement and therefore a major driver for helping us develop a positive culture at Hypertherm.
Our story is a simple one, ask associates where they want to volunteer and help connect them to those volunteer opportunities. Our model is built on personal choice, associates decide where and how they want to give back. Some choose to stay within their skill sets and participate in skills based volunteering i.e., our recruiting team helping high school students with resumes and mock interviewing or our engineers participating in Lego competitions as team coaches or judges. But sometimes associates want to do anything but the work they do all the time for Hypertherm and so they may participate in trail clearing projects, roof repair for a low income homeowner, or stocking shelves at a food pantry.
Personal choice is the beauty of our program and how we have achieved almost 80% volunteer participation through November 2014. Every associate at Hypertherm is given 24 hours of paid volunteer time per year. This year 1,065 associates have volunteered for a total of 15,800 hours, an average of almost 15 hours per volunteer.
Associates become passionate about an organization and often volunteer above and beyond that time on their own. This year we started a Hypertherm Community Hero Award to reward that above and beyond behavior.
It has been remarkable to see how volunteering in groups has improved team relationships. These groups could be made up of associates who generally work together in a given work day or they could be from various parts of the organization. Leaders no longer pay for “team building” activities. Leaders have learned that by scheduling a group Community Service Time project they will increase team communication, engagement, effectiveness and satisfaction. Breaking down barriers and working together for a common cause naturally brings people together. As these photos show, there is much comradery that builds when we volunteer in teams.
Our volunteering has a shared impact on our associates, our communities, and our business. We see our associates build compassion for others and return to work with a renewed sense of purpose and fulfillment. We see communities transformed by their collective generosity of spirit and prosper and thrive in sustained ways that can support our business.
If you would like to explore the opportunities for creating or expanding your volunteering efforts, email Michelle. We will be holding a Volunteer Fair in early 2015 and inviting member businesses and employees to attend!