Leading companies are racing to engage and create fulfilling experiences for employees in an age of artificial intelligence (AI) and technology overload. What works? Choice, incentives, gamification, flexibility, and playing to a person’s unique passions. What aspect of a company’s culture can integrate all of these? Corporate citizenship programs. They put employee passion to work at work—and for the betterment of the community. This “everybody wins” mindset is bringing more attention to employee giving and volunteer programs in recent years, and Genworth is proud to lead the way.
Looking back over just the last 10 years at Genworth, I am struck by the significant enhancements we have made to our employee volunteer and giving programs. When we first started out, we aligned our employee volunteer and giving efforts with core philanthropic focus areas, and employees had to use three separate systems to track their work. While it is very important to have focus areas, we realized our people are what make both our business and our community strong, so why not invest more in their passions?
Genworth Foundation philanthropic grants continue to focus on affordable housing, homelessness, healthy aging, and supporting caregivers—issue areas that align with our business—but we now also turn to our employees to ask them what they care about. Every other year, we gather employee feedback on where they want to focus their volunteer and giving efforts. Currently, the top causes are healthy aging, youth and education, food and nutrition, affordable housing, and animal welfare. Based on this input, we launched 21 Cause Councils across our locations to engage employees who share common social interests as Genworth community ambassadors. They meet with nonprofits as the face of Genworth and help advance their missions.
What employees experience today is the UpLift program, which focuses on choice, collective impact, and incentives:
Think about that for a moment. We value employees’ commitments to the community to such a great degree that we allow 40 hours of Volunteer Time Off so our employees can fulfill those commitments. We also back their financial generosity and give them ways to increase that support even more throughout the year. It’s all worth it, as we know that this support pays back dividends to the company in employee engagement and development, as well as with Genworth’s local reputation.
- Time: Employees have 40 hours of volunteer time annually to use as they like with their favorite nonprofits. If the nonprofit is aligned with the cause council focus areas, employees also get $10 per volunteer hour in a rewards giving account to donate to a nonprofit of their choice, up to $200 annually.
- Dollars: Employees can also personally donate to organizations and receive a Genworth Foundation matching gift of 50 percent. In addition, each cause council focus area is highlighted during a different month throughout the year, where the match is increased to 100 percent for that month’s cause.
We have seen great impact from setting a core strategy centrally, but then giving leeway locally and with individual employees to allow tailored meaning for each. While the majority of our employees live in the Richmond, VA; Lynchburg, VA; Raleigh, NC, Stamford, CT, and Waltham, MA areas, we also have a significant number of remote employees who don’t have access to our Cause councils to identify volunteer opportunities. One of the strengths of our UpLift program is that it provides the flexibility and responsiveness to engage our remote employees in contributing to their local communities.
One of our employees is a model of how this flexibility works. David Stagnitti is a remote sales employee in New York who volunteers with Angel Flight East as a pilot. The flights involve transporting ambulatory cancer patients and their family members at no cost to Philadelphia and Boston for treatments. The UpLift program and the 40 hours of time off policy has allowed David to accept critical weekday flights that many volunteers can’t fulfill due to work obligations.
UpLift has a many moving parts, so identifying a “one-stop-shop” to bring it all together was a necessity. We built this in a single website where employees can learn more about non-profits, find opportunities for and track their volunteerism, as well as make charitable contributions in the way they want: volunteer rewards, credit card, PayPal, or directly from their paycheck. People are incredibly busy; and we knew that if we had to send them to several different places to find information, we would lose them. So, we took extra care to make sure that something so important to our company was exceedingly easy to take part in.
To drive participation, we also use external social media to run charitable marketing campaigns and periodically partner with groups such as Caregiver Action Network to broaden our reach. We also use the UpLift tool to encourage friendly competition between departments in number of volunteer hours and some of the larger featured giving opportunities.
UpLift has enabled an increase in employee volunteerism participation by 10 percent and giving participation by more than 40 percent In 2017, Genworth employees volunteered 17,434 hours and donated nearly $1.5 million to 350 non-profits around the globe. The secret is to empower employees to give back how and where they want, and not in a prescribed “volun-told” way. If our experience is any indication, your company will see meaningful returns in employees who are advocates for the company and who strive to be a part of the company’s success.