Organon Canada is encouraging its employees to volunteer by allowing them paid time off and partnering with organizations that reflect their values.

The health-care company provides all employees with up to 40 hours of paid time to volunteer each calendar year so they can give back to their communities.

“From the start, we felt like a volunteer strategy would be important for us,” says Michael Casia, president and managing director of Organon Canada. “We’re a women’s health-focused company, so our mission includes advocating for gender equity through health and our business [involves] medicines and devices that can help improve women’s health. We want to accomplish this through the business, but we also believe that to achieve our mission we need to be involved with our communities.”

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Litsa Spiridonakos, director of human resources, says the company came together during the coronavirus pandemic, so allowing employees to volunteer became a priority. “We provided health-care professionals who work for us the opportunity to step away from work to help with the national vaccination campaign during the pandemic. We also lifted the 40-hour maximum per year to allow them to help with ongoing efforts in Canada.”

The volunteer policy helps empower employees to bring new ideas to management on how the organization can get involved in the community, adds Casia. “I think that [speaks to] the success of the program. Culture has been an important part of why people have joined the company, according to the feedback we’ve gotten. This policy helps us attract and retain people who care about what we’re doing and want to work for a company like ours.”

Among its volunteer initiatives, Organon works closely with Le Chainon, a Quebec-based non-profit organization that offers secure shelter and other supports for women in need. Employees recently attended their third volunteer session (pictured) with Magasin Le Chainon, which is a store that collects donated items for the organization.

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“I think it’s important for us as leaders to show this policy isn’t about window dressing,” says Casia. “If I can set that example and have employees feel free to give their time then I think it sets a positive standard for the organization on our openness and the culture we’re trying to build.”

When Le Chainon wanted to create an onsite health-care clinic to properly treat women in need, Organon partnered with the organization to make it a reality, he adds. “We also had them come to our office and educate managers on how to better recognize the signs of domestic violence. As a company [with a hybrid environment], they covered how managers and colleagues can better identify some of the signs and what to do. It’s really been an honour and we’re humbled they’ve allowed us to partner with them to help them on different initiatives.”

Organon also offers a points-based recognition program which allows employees to give and receive points for going above and beyond, says Spiridonakos. Employees can redeem points to purchase merchandise and gift cards, but the company also provides them with the opportunity to donate to charities.

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