On the Job

6 ways to create a socially responsible culture

If you’re a Millennial like me, you may find extra job satisfaction knowing you’re working for a socially responsible company.

Working at Unum, I love knowing we’re in the business of doing real good for real people. Our core business purpose is to help people move beyond tough life events like disability or loss. But our company’s caring spirit extends beyond company walls and into our local communities. It’s part of our company culture.

Here’s some advice from our in-house community relations experts on how to create a socially responsible culture where you work.

Support volunteer time.
Show your employees volunteering is supported at the company level by providing opportunities throughout the year to volunteer with organizations they’re passionate about, recommended Miles Huff in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Let employees spend time with a charity they’re personally invested in or organize a company-sponsored volunteering day.

“At last year’s annual Day of Caring, Unum employees spent a company-sponsored work day clearing trails for the Lookout Mountain Conservancy,” Huff said. “Our employees loved getting outside and getting their hands dirty, because it was so atypical for a regular work day. They were also able to bond with their colleagues in a different setting.”

Maximize employee giving.
Matching gift programs allow employees to help direct how the company invests in the community.

“By matching personal gifts of $50 or more to qualified nonprofit organizations, we encourage employees to support causes and organizations that are close to their hearts,” said Alana Stroker in Columbia, South Carolina.

“In the UK, we offer a payroll giving program where employees can donate directly to their favorite charities via their monthly paycheck,” added Susan Sanderson in Dorking, Surrey. “For qualifying charities, we’ll also match those donations, making an even bigger difference for these great causes.”

Tailor the involvement.
Employees have different motivators, pointed out Leah MacLeod in Portland, Maine, and having several means of getting involved is a key for engagement.

“Some employees may want to donate their time and energy in a cause. Others may prefer to give financially,” she said. “Allowing employees to contribute in a way that works for them will render the best results.”

Designate charity champions.
Susan works with “charity champions” from each office to help spearhead volunteering and fundraising activities: a gala ball, quiz nights, bake sales and a 24-hour cycling and rowing challenge.

“The ideas that come from our local charity champions are creative and engaging,” she said. “And they’re often able to garner even more support because their colleagues want to support the champion and the cause.”

Create annual giving campaigns.
Annual enterprise-wide initiatives like our United Way campaign bring everyone together to champion a cause.

In addition to giving back to our communities, a campaign gives employees unique professional development opportunities, Huff said. From project management to event planning, committee members can step outside their day-to-day roles and hone new skills.

Create awareness.
Use communication channels such as your intranet or company newsletter to talk about corporate social responsibility, including why and how the company is giving back. The more aware employees are, the more likely they’ll invest in the cause.

Unum employees use a grassroots approach to tell the company’s CSR story through social media with the hashtag #UnumCares. This social connectedness helps catalogue activities from employees’ points of view — which often helps inspire colleagues around them, explained Leah.

In 2017, Unum and its employees in the U.S., U.K. and Ireland contributed more than $12.8 million and volunteered more than 77,000 hours to charitable organizations.

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