Michaela Chaloupková, ČEZ Group: Corporate volunteering is more than an ethical gesture
A member of the Board of Directors of ČEZ Group speaks about the benefits of volunteering for the company.
We talked to Michaela Chaloupková, a member of the Board, the director of Administration Division, and a CSR leader of ČEZ Group, about what is important for setting up the programme of corporate volunteering and what factors influence employees’ motivation. This is also the topic of the seminar Corporate volunteering: How helping others also helps your company, which is to be held in Bratislava on Thursday.
Why is corporate volunteering important for your company?
Volunteering is part of our strategy of sustainable development. Corporate responsibility permeates all areas of ČEZ Group. Through our programmes of corporate donations, advertising partnership, and volunteering activities we help where we operate and thus contribute to the development of regions and communal life. Corporate volunteering is an ethical gesture. It is not only a way of providing help to children, the environment, the weak, the elderly, or the disabled, but also a benefit for our employees. In 2006, based on an employee survey, we started offering one paid day per year off work for work in a non-profit organization.
What makes a corporate volunteering programme successful?
The bottom line is that volunteering is really voluntary. From the point of view of the non-profit organization, from the point of view of the company, as well as from the point of view of the employee who must want to invest their energy and time. Some employees like to get involved again and again, but others do not care, and they shouldn’t be pushed. Employees often see a benefit in being able to experience a new environment, learn new information, and get involved in local affairs. Therefore, we encourage them to be active in the regions where they live. In 2008-2016 our corporate volunteering project “Time for a Good Thing” involved 4,323 volunteers in more than 600 organizations focused on social assistance or environmental care.
What motivates your employees to join the volunteering programmes?
Employees are motivated by personal experience with voluntary work, positive emotions, a possibility to learn a new environment, new systems, well-organized events. If employees have spent a day in an organization which they liked, they are motivated to participate again. This is our tenth year. Some employees have participated in all previous years. It is essential that employees can suggest which organizations they would like to help. It is a great boost for their motivation. Moreover, corporate volunteering may be interesting for those who would like to visit, for example, a hospice. If they find the day they spent in the non-profit organization enriching, they raise further questions. Good quality conditions for corporate volunteering are crucial for a transition to “independent” volunteering.
What advice would you give to a company which is only starting with volunteering activities?
Of course, it depends on the size of the company. In the case of such a large company as ČEZ, good coordination between individual departments is necessary – the internal communication, HR, tax, and legal departments. Volunteering cannot be half-baked. Someone can have a great idea, but is not aware of its legal implications, employees’ safety, transport, or is not familiar with channels for informing the employees about it. It is also important for the company to decide if it is going to do it alone or it is going to use one of the existing platforms or volunteering centres. It is also necessary to decide in which areas the company wants to help and then carefully select organizations it is going to cooperate with. As far as the organization of a project is concerned, the company should decide how many days a year the employees will be allowed to spend doing voluntary work (usually 1-2 days).