Businesses with their reach, resources and organizational capabilities can help stakeholders like the Government and NGOs fill crucial gaps in service delivery. Strategic partnerships between India Inc and these stakeholders can considerably accelerate the pace of development in India.
Such collaborations can be a good business move as well. Studies show that consumers and business talent are increasingly choosing companies that are socially responsive as compared to “responsible”. The difference between lies in proactive engagement of organization with social issues.
Volunteering is proactive engagement–at both individual and corporate level. However, there is a distinct change in the volunteering that is gaining traction in India Inc. Organizations are choosing to encourage their employees to offer pro-bono professional services strategically through well-structured Employee Volunteering Programmes (EVPs). This is partly because we now have metrics that can monetize the hours volunteered by skilled employees and partly because the millennials, who make up a majority of the workforce today, are more interested in high-impact projects that give them the freedom to use their skills for a cause they identify with.
Employee Volunteering Programmes have to be shaped to match the energy and intellect of the young force. Innovation and insight into the millennial mindset are key to vibrant and successful EVPs. Schindler’s India for example has a structured volunteering programme Muskaan that provides volunteering opportunities to employees who are keen to engage in skill-based short and long-term volunteering projects. IBM too offers its volunteers interesting projects, as opposed to ad hoc opportunities. IBM volunteers have worked with Sankara Eye Foundation, one of the country’s best known charitable eye care organizations, to develop a knowledge management portal to handle patient and administrative data.
CRISIL, has an innovative programme called Change the Scene. This basically facilitates an employee-led solution to a pressing development issue. The employees choose a problem they want to work on, design a solution and implement it on project mode, to meet the desired impact. CRISIL supports them with funds and flexibility so that they can pursue their social projects and professional responsibilities with equal zeal. Change the Scene has led to the creation of robust and scalable prototypes in the space of financial literacy, education, health and hygiene, waste management, and community development.
Innovative employee programmes are a win-win for all involved. When employees drive long-term projects that help solve real-world problems, the impact is manifold. The employees get perspective, become more grounded, and develop excellent project management and leadership skills. The employer gets a more engaged and tightly knit workforce, and society at large becomes a more cohesive unit. Clearly change is a project which everyone must undertake.