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Team Building Through Volunteerism

Are you looking for cost-effective team building approaches to improve communications across departmental siloes, boost employee morale and deepen your staff’s commitment to your company’s mission? An employee volunteer program is one of the most effective ways we’ve found to accomplish all three of these goals while creating a favorable employee culture. Best of all, you get to strengthen the very communities that have made you successful!

At HT Staffing, we encourage employees to get involved through volunteering, fundraising and board membership. The activities we choose are team building exercises that require no ice breakers. One of our favorite projects is walking in the annual March of Dimes March for Babies. Team Headhunters has raised nearly $5,000 to help improve the health of babies. We’ve had a lot of fun in the process!

Another way we rally the troops is by sponsoring a street for Keep Austin Beautiful. Getting out of the office and working side-by-side to clean up a little slice of our fair city gives all of us a chance to talk, work and laugh together—to bond.

HT Staffing Partner Nad Elias has served on the board of American Diabetes Association in Austin. The year Nad helped plan the organization’s gala, HT Staffing sponsored tickets for employees to attend. Everyone had a memorable evening, and the Association benefitted from the support.

Board service and community involvement are effective ways to enhance employee engagement, leadership skills and professional development.

“I enjoy working for a company that appreciates the value of being involved in the community,” says HT Staffing Sales Director Claire Reynolds. “Through our charity events, I’m not only able to help others, but also network with other local business leaders who appreciate making a real difference in the community.”

What’s ahead for HT Staffing’s charitable efforts? We’re hosting our first annual Austin Music Festival kick-off party, benefitting Dress for Success. We can definitely get behind the organization’s mission: To promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. Watch for details about this fun-filled happy hour event.

BuildASign.com, an Austin-based online custom printing provider, has six staff members dedicated to philanthropy. We spoke with the company’s Community Advocate, Chelsea Manning. It’s interesting to note that while her current focus is community engagement, she is also responsible for staff members’ professional development—the two functions go hand-in-hand.

Manning explained the community engagement piece consists of getting employees involved in volunteering, board service and charitable giving. She says, “I get tons of support from senior management. I constantly have the opportunity to think outside the box.”

An example of this out-of-the-box thinking is the recent interdepartmental “CANville” food drive competition. Teams constructed scenes using donated canned goods. Two of the memorable tableaus were a Wizard of Oz-themed wonderland and one depicting the Alamo. The results? An enlivened employee culture and more than 3,000 cans of food donated to the Capital Area Food Bank.

BuildASign.com offers a volunteer time-off program; each staff member gets up to three days off per year to volunteer. Manning explains, “Say a staff member serves on the board of a nonprofit. That person can take a day off to manage a board event or address other related responsibilities.”

“We organize a monthly group volunteer project,” she continues. “For activities that are scheduled during work hours, employees can use their volunteer time off to participate.”

It is important to choose projects staff members are passionate about. Manning has met with representatives from the company’s approximately 230 employees to learn what they want to accomplish in the community. She says, “Employees are excited about the community engagement program here.”

The BuildASign Giving Program has contributed in-kind gifts valued at more than $500,000 this year alone to nonprofits throughout the U.S.

Why does BuildASign.com invest in philanthropic efforts and volunteerism? Manning answers, “Our success depends on finding the best employees. Today’s workers don’t want to just punch a time clock. Also, BuildASign believes we owe it to the community.”

Earning a reputation as a good corporate citizen can help you attract and retain top-notch employees. Many customers and vendors, too, prefer to build relationships with companies that are leaders and contributors within the communities they serve.

Share your experiences with us. Do you consider an employee volunteer program important to team building, employee engagement and employee retention? What results have you seen?

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