The following is excerpted from Issue 15 of The Corporate Citizen. To learn more about how you can engage your employees and contribute to your communities through employee volunteering programs, consider joining us in Chicago on September 7-8, 2016 for our Employee Volunteer Programs with Purpose course.
Community involvement efforts—once a way for well-intentioned companies to connect with people in their area—are now an essential part of corporate citizenship programs and have evolved to become a strategic component of business.
Through a mix of volunteering and giving programs, companies and employees commit to making communities a better place to work and live. Community involvement efforts don’t benefit only the neighborhoods they touch, they offer benefits to the business as well. In the Center’s 2015 Community Involvement Study, the majority of companies surveyed report that community involvement activities contribute to enhanced reputation and the recruitment and retention of employees (see Figure A). Given their role in achieving these key business goals, it’s no wonder that more than 80 percent of companies offer employee volunteer programs and nearly 85 percent offer a workplace giving program.
While most companies make investments in their communities to enrich the areas in which their stakeholders live and work, some develop their efforts with more strategic objectives in mind, opting to derive business benefits while doing good for causes and issues central to their continued growth. These companies extend their foundational purposes—as well as the skills and expertise they’ve developed to support them—to their community involvement initiatives.
Many companies work to increase the impact of their efforts by developing partnerships with nonprofit organizations. These partnerships can combine the complementary skills and inputs of the public sector, the private sector, and civil society to tackle complex problems.
At Banfield Pet Hospital, corporate citizenship professionals develop comprehensive community involvement efforts that align to the objectives of their businesses—and amplify activities through strategic partnerships.
While it may be the largest veterinary practice in the world, Banfield knows that greater progress is made when broader strategy is adapted and refined to address local needs. That’s why Banfield partners with both national and local organizations to ensure that animals receive the full service veterinary care necessary to lead rich, lasting lives.
Banfield’s corporate citizenship department engages the company’s more than 16,000 associates in meaningful community involvement efforts that touch on its three focus areas: wellness of pets, wellness of its communities, and wellness of its people and its profession. With nearly 925 hospitals in 42 states and Puerto Rico, the success of these efforts is dependent on an approach that takes the unique needs of each community into account.
“At Banfield, our commitment to our communities begins before we ever even open a location,” said Kim Koenig, corporate social responsibility program manager at Banfield Pet Hospital. “Prior to each Banfield Pet Hospital Grand Opening, our hospital team provides veterinary services free of charge to local shelter pets to help increase their chances for adoption.”
The relationships that Banfield builds during its opening weekends only grow stronger with time, as associates are encouraged to give back throughout the year via its employee volunteer program. Developed by Mars—Banfield’s parent company—the program enables associates to volunteer in teams for company sponsored activities during normal business hours. It encourages a focus on the company’s mission— making a better world for pets—by ensuring that 80 percent of the volunteer efforts are directed toward pet-related nonprofits, with the remaining 20 percent allotted for other efforts that address a specific need in their local community.
Each year, Banfield ramps up its community involvement efforts in the month of October, encouraging an even greater focus on pet-related employee volunteer projects including shelter cleaning, shelter pet socialization, dog park revitalization, and preventive pet care for vulnerable pet owners. In 2015, approximately 2,000 associates volunteered 7,500 hours and helped a combined 65,000 pets and people.
“The Mars Volunteer Program is a tremendous source of pride for our organization and represents the commitment Banfield has to giving back to our communities, “ said Marta Monetti, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs. “We may be a national brand, but we believe in making a positive impact in each neighborhood.” Research has shown that while volunteering of any kind strengthens organizational attachment, employees are especially motivated by opportunities that allow them to develop their skills, which is why Banfield has created efforts that engage their employees’ diverse skill sets, from their pet-care associates to their on-staff construction team and IT personnel.[i] ,[ii]
A recent example took place in Puerto Rico, where Banfield has four hospitals. There, the work of associate volunteers—who cleaned and organized local shelters and socialized dogs—was amplified by the company’s New Hospital Openings Team. On an average day, this team builds new hospitals. In Puerto Rico, they donated their construction skills to repair and enhance rescue shelter Save-A-Sato (the local word for stray dogs). The team poured a new concrete floor, constructed new rows of kennels, replaced part of the electrical system, and built new shelving for better organization.
Now, Banfield is deepening its impact through the Banfield Foundation, created earlier this year. Through Veterinary Assistance Grants and Pet Advocacy Grants, the foundation supports nonprofit organizations that assist pet owners and complements Banfield’s corporate citizenship strategy of improving the wellbeing of pets and communities.
[i] Rodell, J. B. (2013). Finding meaning through volunteering: Why do employees volunteer and what does it mean for their jobs? Academy of Management Journal 56 (5,) 1274-1294.
[ii] Jones, D. A. (2010). Does serving the community also serve the company? Using organizational identification and social exchange theories to understand employee responses to a volunteerism programme. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 83 (4), 857-878.