Employers still looking to engage employees in the spirt of Canada’s 150th anniversary can tie the event into their workplace volunteering programs.

To coincide with Canada 150, Volunteer Ottawa has introduced a program called 150 for 150, which is challenging Canadians to donate 150 volunteer hours to charity this year. While the program is open to all Canadians, community engagement platform Volinspire is working with a number of employers in British Columbia to tie it into their workplace volunteering efforts.

Read: Cisco workers get five days to give back under formalized volunteer policy

First West Credit Union is awarding 32 employees a $500 donation to a charity of their choice throughout the year. As employees accrue 15 hours of volunteer service, their name goes into a draw. In order to give employees time to accrue the hours, the credit union drew two names in the first quarter of the year and will draw 10 names in each quarter for the rest of the year.

“It’s an opportunity to tell the stories within our organization of the people who are volunteering in their communities,” says Susan Byrom, senior manager of community investment at the credit union. “So we really wanted to look at how we could recognize individuals for their service that makes our community stronger.”

Along with the employee program, the organization is recognizing people from the communities it serves throughout the year with a $1,500 donation each week to a charity of their choice. The organization posts stories about the winners its social media channels, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as its Volinspire platform.

Read: Financial services employers most likely to support volunteerism: study

“When we think about celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary, we think Canadians are what makes Canada great, and a significant part of making Canada great is the volunteer efforts of so many,” says Byrom.

Another British Columbia-based employer, Prospera Credit Union, began 2017 by committing to 5,000 hours of employee volunteering. Its chief executive officer used social media to challenge other credit unions to participate. “It was cool to see a friendly competition between the credit unions kick off how they were going to collectively feed into this goal,” says Jeff Hoffart, customer happiness manager at Volinspire.

Employee volunteers log their hours through the Volinspire platform and the company puts all of the participants’ names into a hat, drawing one each month and awarding them $150 for the charity of their choice. “That recognition program takes admin about five minutes each month,” says Hoffart. “You can do things that have a large [return on investment] and have a huge impact and mean a lot to, internally, your employees, and externally, to your brand in minimal time.”

Read: Apps, peer recognition among the trends in employee recognition programs

July 1 is a great day to launch something for employees, he says, noting staff show greater engagement with their employer when the company shows it supports the causes they care about. And for companies that haven’t started a Canada Day campaign yet, it’s not too late, Hoffart adds.

“What better way to kick it off? Canada 150 does run year long. . . . Some companies started planning last year and hit the ground running. Some companies looked at it and said, ‘We’re not ready for this, but this whole Canada 150 campaign, we can leverage this and look at how we can get engaged with our staff.’ So some are jumping on the past couple of months, some are only launching their involvement on Canada Day and then carrying on throughout the year.”

For its part, First West Credit Union is looking at ways to extend its program into 2018 because it has resonated so well with employees, says Byrom. “We’ve really taken this holistic look at leading one’s self, leading others and leading in the organization and the community to foster a sense of understanding for employees that we can serve in the community. . . . There’s a strong sense of ownership of our employees going out and looking at it from that point of view.”

Read: Employers engaging staff in Canada 150 activities, perks

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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