BALANCING PROFIT, PLANET AND PEOPLE
By Alison L. O’Malley, Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational PsychologyArticle Courtesy of The Indy Chamber
Indy Do Day (IDD) enables businesses to display their ongoing commitment to the well-being of the local community. It’s an act of corporate responsibility, of corporate citizenship, of responsible business – whatever you want to call it, participating in IDD allows companies to achieve social impact on a grand scale.
IDD resembles events wherein large groups of employees perform community service on a specific day (e.g., JP Morgan Chase’s Global Days of Service, Discovery Communications’ Discover Your Impact Day, Kraft Food’s Kraft Cares Day), but is potentially all the more powerful in that it enables organizations to go beyond their corporate identity and unite around Indianapolis. The most frequent reason people do not volunteer is lack of time. Providing employees with resources and support for their volunteer activities helps employees overcome this barrier.
The act of volunteering itself provides several direct benefits: a sense of personal fulfillment, enhanced self-esteem and confidence, and the benefits of meeting new people and spending quality time with co-workers and friends. Employees report feeling energized upon return to work, as well as pride in their organization due to the opportunity to volunteer on company time. Even employees who do not volunteer can still experience these benefits in terms of enhanced pride if they believe that outsiders view the company more favorably because of its volunteerism.
The short-term nature of IDD makes it unlikely that employees will feel overwhelmed with the amount of work to do upon returning from the volunteer experience (so it’s more likely that this is an enriching effect than a depletion effect). There’s also the possibility of refining work-related skills through volunteerism (thus, tasks performed in context of IDD need not be completely separated from work role, and indeed role overlap may be encouraged)
As for organizational outcomes, org’s community involvement is positively related to business performance (see Orlitzky, Schmidt, & Rynes, 2003). Customers reward companies that contribute to and serve their communities by “voting with their pocketbook” (Smith & Langford, 2009). CVPs (corporate volunteer programs) positively shape job seekers’ impressions of an organization. In terms of current employees, employees’ beliefs that their company is a responsible member of the community are positively related to organizational commitment. In short, employees have stronger intentions to remain with the organization because of CVP-based pride. Other outcomes include increased cohesion at work, as well as enhanced teamwork, leadership, communication, and project management skills.
Outcomes such as resentment of perceived obligation to participate are possible, but this merely reiterates the need to structure and manage CVPs and their targets (e.g., political, religious, or cultural causes that employees may find offensive or undeserving) carefully. Taken together, evidence suggests that organizations that strategically implement CVPs gain business advantages, improve the well-being of their employees, and have a positive impact on the community.