Employee Volunteer Programmes (EVP) are a relatively new concept in South Africa, but there are many excellent reasons to implement them. An increasing demand for businesses to be more socially conscious is a global trend, and South Africa is no exception. Today, 5 September, marks the UN’s International Day of Charity. It serves to promote the UN’s number one Sustainable Development Goal: Eradicating Poverty. Though charity is certainly important, it’s worth considering taking things a step further.
EVPs make good business sense
As employers, supporting awareness days like International Charity Day or Mandela Day are great ways to get people involved in doing good and building some goodwill with employees, customers and communities. But taking a longer-term view of community development not only makes these efforts feel more genuine, it can have enormous business benefits. Implementing an EVP goes beyond scoring B-BBEE points. It’s an opportunity to increase employee engagement and strengthen your employee value proposition.
Millennials are notoriously difficult to retain, and top talent is demanding of employers. People want to know they are applying for a job with a company that takes its role in the community seriously. Companies that prioritise social impact are likely to attract better talent and to better retain their top performers. And that’s across generations. An EVP demonstrates this commitment, offering people a structured, simple way to get involved.
Giving people an opportunity to contribute towards your charitable corporate efforts, rather than simply making big donations and hoping people see the press release, makes the effort real. It makes giving back and supporting communities part of your company culture, and leads to more sustainable engagement.
Customers care, too
People want to buy from brands that do good in the world. 88% of people, in fact. Consumers want brands to help them do the right thing and make a difference. And even in the B2B space, where decision making follows stringent procurement processes, an alignment between brand and personal values often makes a difference when it comes to the final decision.
The procurement process will take your B-BBEE score into account, and having a well-aligned EVP in place can help you improve that score. But it’s still important to win the hearts and minds of your main contacts. Knowing that the business they are putting forward as a potential vendor is serious about community development and social investment can make a difference in how hard they try to get your proposal approved.
An EVP takes doing good to a new level
It goes beyond charity to getting involved more sustainably. An EVP will support your B-BBEE requirements. But more importantly, it needs to align with your company values and your brand identity. If your brand is positioned as a power-house in STEM, use your EVP to uplift STEM education or support STEM startups. If you’re selling environmentally friendly products, use your EVP to support conservation or recycling.
A well-structured EVP should align with your brand, your culture and your business strategy. If it does, it will give your people a platform to get involved in causes they personally identify with, in ways they are most comfortable. The impact on your business’ culture and brand perception can be enormously positive.
In South Africa, it can be difficult to find a charity or non-profit that meets all your needs. And arranging volunteer days, donation collections and charity drives is hard work. If you are able to dedicate resources in house, these things will not fall by the wayside as a ‘nice to do’. If you can’t, try partnering with a company like For Good. They refer to themselves as a ‘matchmaking service between people who want to do good, and the causes that need their help’, and they do this for individuals and companies.
Why not take a moment to mark International World Charity Day and find a cause to support.