Guest post by Betsy Weaver, Ed.D., president and founder, UbiCare.
At UbiCare, our mission is Making Us All Better—whether that “us” is the hospitals and patients we serve or our employees and the wider community. We invest in caring all year long because it’s good for business and it’s good to work with people who care enough to volunteer and invest in the community.
Volunteering is central to healthcare
Giving back is a core part of our UbiCare culture. We believe in translating what we do for the healthcare market—providing access and information to help the patients of our hospital clients improve their health and their lives—to our community. We want nothing less than to change the world when it comes to stepping up and caring. And to achieve this, we have to give back.
All of us who work in healthcare have come to realize that real health comes down to the community. We’re all influenced by—and can influence—the people around us. We believe in supporting them in any way that we can.
Community is important all year, not just during the holidays
UbiCare has a corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan that includes volunteering on-site at a community or nonprofit organization at least quarterly, and often more than that. We also encourage staff to suggest the causes they want to give back to. It helps the rest of us get more excited about a volunteering project when someone we work with is passionate about it.
We designated 2015 as the Year of the Essentials, and focused our volunteer efforts on food, education and clothing. We harvested fruits and vegetables for low-income Boston residents at Revision Urban Farm and packed meals for homebound and critically ill people at Community Servings. We visited a local middle school to talk with students about career preparation and ran career-focused activities through the Partners for Youth with Disabilities’ Young Entrepreneurs Project. We sorted baby clothes at Cradles to Crayons’ Giving Factory. We hosted a blood drive and invited the entire Brewery Complex to participate.
It helps to connect what we’re doing to the real impact it has. For example, we’re not just donating blood because it’s a nice thing to do. Did you know that one donation can help save the lives of up to three people?
The important thing here is that it’s never a surprise when we announce our next CSR initiative, which we’ve dubbed the “UbiCares” program. It’s already a big part of who we are and what our employees want us to be. Plus, it tells the world and our staff that this is a core value for us and not just lip service.
Giving back is the best thing we can do for team building, too. It not only helps organizations doing great work in the community, it brings our staff together in ways that we don’t usually interact. Volunteering gives us meaning and purpose and breaks us out of our ordinary routines. We get to see how people work and the processes they follow in different settings. It helps us learn more about how our individual staff members think, communicate and work together—all things that that can inform our interactions when we return to the office.
William D. Eggers, Nate Wong and Kate Cooney, who wrote “The purpose-driven professional” put it nicely: “[CSR] initiatives push innovation by putting employees in a fresh context, allowing them to learn new skills while serving a greater good.”
Making Time for CSR
As a small, high-performing, fast-paced company, it would be easy to say we don’t have time to give back to our community. But even in our busiest months, we will close the office for half a day for a volunteer event. That’s because it’s good business and central to our company’s purpose, not just with our healthcare clients, but also where we live and work.
Want to make CSR part of your culture year-round? Start by asking employees what causes they care about. Find great organizations near your workplace and partner with them. Once that becomes a habit, be sure to ask employees what other causes they want your company to champion. Let them plan a volunteer event they want to do. Figure out how your community efforts tie into your company’s mission, and your team will feel motivated to give back.
What’s the return on investment? It takes time and effort—much of it away from the office—to make volunteering a real part of your company’s work. But the returns are substantial: employee retention, satisfaction and the sharing of ideas. Stepping up for the community often means stepping up at work, too. Plus, it’s fun and puts smiles on all faces. The biggest return is that giving back attracts and keeps employees who are community-minded. And being community-minded is truly the way to change the world.