Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22, with various events held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. While a handful of companies are participating in events with their employees today, some companies offer employees paid time off to volunteer as a powerful attraction and retention tool. Here are seven employers that prioritize volunteer benefits for their employees.
Bank of America
With manager approval, all Bank of America employees can volunteer for a good cause up to two hours a week.
Overall, the financial giant has some impressive community service and charitable giving statistics, according to Great Place to Work: It donated nearly $200 million in the past year to various causes and organizations, including $30 million in matching contributions to employee charitable gifts. And in 2017, Bank of America’s 200,000 employees worldwide logged nearly 2 million hours in volunteer service.
Tech giant Cisco allows its 38,000 U.S. employees to take up to five days off per year, with pay, to volunteer for a cause that matters to them. Its program, dubbed Time2Give, is in addition to any paid time off or vacation workers already have.
“By empowering our people to take time off to volunteer, we’re collectively helping to change the world through active participation in our communities,” says Francine Katsoudas, the company’s chief people officer.
Professional services company Deloitte launched its “Annual Impact Day” two decades ago. Approximately half of its 50,000 employees in the U.S. participated in the event last year, says Lynn DeHoyos, leader of the company’s “strategies and programs” team within its corporate citizenship unit. During the event, which is held on a Friday, employees volunteer at around 1,000 project sites, without sacrificing a day’s pay.
The hope is that employees will go “above and beyond” Annual Impact Day in their volunteering efforts, DeHoyos says. An overarching theme of projects on Annual Impact Day — and year-round as well — is “helping kids be college-ready.”
A typical project might be giving the halls of an under-resourced high school a fresh coat of paint. But rather than just have volunteers gather brushes and immediately get to work, project team leaders engage volunteers in a discussion to focus attention on the relationship between a school’s state of repair and students’ motivation to take their studies seriously. That underscores the goal of “making an impact that matters” — which is Deloitte’s mission statement.
The hope is that the day will have an impact on the community and upon employees themselves, inspiring them to pursue their professional careers in a manner consistent with Deloitte’s mission.
Accounting firm EY holds an annual volunteer event for its employees — called EY Connect Day — that has grown steadily over the eight years since it began. At this year’s event — held on Oct. 5 — 23,600 EY employees from around the globe participated in more than 940 volunteer projects with nearly 650 nonprofit organizations. Employees helped with projects ranging from teaching high school students how to write a résumé to feeding the homeless to helping immigrants practice their language skills.
EY Connect Day began in 2010 in response to feedback from employees and as part of a broader focus on employee engagement.
“Over time, cities in all 10 of our Americas geographic regions held EY Connect Days with great success,” says Sheri Beale, senior associate, EY Americas Corporate Responsibility. The annual volunteer event now gives EY employees “the opportunity to develop relationships inside and outside of EY, practice inclusive teaming and share skills they use every day with their clients with the public through skills-based projects.”
Since the inception of the program, EY employees have logged nearly 650,000 volunteer hours across the Americas, Beale adds.
The software giant gives its roughly 27,000 employees seven paid days off per year to volunteer on the project of their choice — the time is in addition to its vacation policy. It’s a popular offering: The company says it’s seen an 82% participation rate from employees. The benefit also helped Salesforce land the top spot on a list of “The Best Workplaces for Giving Back in 2018” from Fortune and Great Place to Work.
Salesforce also offers a $1,000 grant for employees who complete all seven days annually, to donate to the nonprofit of their choice.
Ultimate Software, a provider of human capital management solutions, provides all full-time employees with three paid days per year for community service and volunteer work with charities of their choosing. The company also matches dollar-for-dollar the total amount of donations that its employees contribute for certain global aid to victims of natural disasters and support for coworkers and their families in need.
One example is Ultimate’s companywide National Week of Service in September 2017. The company partnered with the nonprofit Rebuilding Together, which assembles teams of licensed professionals and everyday volunteers to assist with home repairs for veterans, the elderly and low-income homeowners. More than 200 employees from across the United States spent consecutive days painting, landscaping, gardening and completing other beautification projects to help restore houses for seven families.
UnitedHealthcare, like Deloitte, organizes its volunteerism effort under a broad umbrella: “Do Good. Live Well.” A current specific emphasis for the healthcare giant is reducing hunger and obesity, a natural outgrowth being a healthcare company, according to Shannon Loecher, leader of UHC’s corporate social responsibility efforts. Typical projects supported by UHC are related to physical fitness and nutrition.
However, Loecher notes, United’s program is not micromanaged from headquarters. “Employees in offices around the country have the autonomy to volunteer in whatever way is best for their community” under the broader Do Good Live Well organizational infrastructure. Employees can do some volunteering during working hours and occasionally are able to pull family members into the activity as well.
One way UHC encourages employees to volunteer is to make a $500 grant to nonprofits that employees volunteer at least 30 hours with over the course of a year.
To maximize the impact of its volunteerism effort, UHC establishes partnerships with organizations such as the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, which improves fitness facilities and nutrition programming at high schools across the U.S.
UHC research shows that the Do Good Live Well program has done well by UHC in terms of employee engagement, and by giving UHC a way to “present a more human, compassionate side of what can be known as a big corporation,” Loecher says.