Article: Novartis India’s volunteering journey: A success story

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Novartis India’s volunteering journey: A success story

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Novartis India follows the principle of ‘giving back more to the society than we take’ and this is what is helping them create a successful employee volunteering experience.
Novartis India’s volunteering journey: A success story

A meta-analysis of 199 studies on volunteering programs, covering 152 organizations, 44 industries, and 26 countries, conducted by Gallup suggested that a high employee engagement in organizations' employee volunteering program increased business performance numbers across the board: Profitability increased by 16 percent per productivity by 18 percent, customer loyalty by 12 percent and quality by an incredible 60 percent.

Giving your team a say in the way your corporate social responsibility program works is a robust way to encourage employee engagement, which in turn leads to improved retention and impacts positive bottom line results.

Similar views were shared by Svetlana Pinto, Country Head Communications & CSR, Novartis India during the People Matters and Goodera roundtable, ‘Designing volunteering experiences for your workforce’ 

Svetlana Pinto, Country Head Communications & CSR, Novartis India speaks about the volunteering journey of Novartis and ways how companies can take volunteer initiatives that contribute to the success of the business. She says “While we’ve been having volunteering for a very long time in the company, we actually moved into a more structured format in the last one year. There have been events when we had to turn back volunteers.” 

In February this year, Novartis got a new Global CEO and one of the things that he put maximum emphasis on was giving back more to the society than we take. “So, it’s something we need to build in the fabric of our company not just in terms of volunteering but in the way we do business as well,” she adds.

Sharing her views on how important volunteering is in the present times, Svetlana shares some ways in which volunteering contributes to business success: 

•    Recruiting Advantages: Millennials prefer employees whose community activities match their values. 

•    Better productivity: Increases employee morale and satisfaction, boosting productivity 

•    Better corporate visibility: Creates the image of a socially responsible workforce 

•    Upskilling: Leads to upskilling of team members 

•    Team Spirit: Builds team spirit and camaraderie within teams 

•    Better client engagement: Companies keen to work with socially responsible companies 

There are so many advantages to volunteering, and this is often spotted in the younger lot that is joining the workforce. Svetlana shares her experience, “Last month we were having our regional team visiting India, and I suggested to the local leadership team that we should take them for a volunteering event rather than just a dinner as it is a great team building activity.” 

When you do volunteer activities, it breaks all barriers, and there is no hierarchy; it is a better way for employees to bond with each other. Besides, it gets you better corporate visibility. People are happier and have a sense of giving back to the society that gives them a great sense of accomplishment. Svetlana says “During events, we have volunteers that say, “The next time you’re doing this, we want to volunteer for it. I feel this is an excellent validation for an event.”

According to the PWC Future of Work survey by Deloitte, 59 percent of millennials seek out employers whose CSR values matched their own. 83 percent of employees of companies with community involvement will stay with the company compared to 61 percent of employees of companies with no community involvement. In fact, 89 percent believe that companies who sponsor volunteer activities offer better overall working environment than those who do not. 

Volunteer program serves as a solution to a lot of problems if done correctly. Fundraising is often considered the easiest as you have to write a cheque. Instead, you can link employee volunteering to your CSR program, so there’s a better connect rather than just making a tick in the box. This gives a new meaning to your fund-raising initiatives and portrays a positive light on your companies. Another challenge that volunteering can solve is attracting talent. As employees like aligning their sense of purpose with the ideals of the company, the initiative a company chooses to attract those already working in that direction. 

Usually, companies believe that finding people to volunteer is difficult, but Svetlana believes it is a myth. She says, “The struggle was not to find volunteers but create more opportunities to let people volunteer.” As a solution to this, Svetlana concludes by giving out volunteering ideas that include skill-based volunteering, fundraising for a cause, volunteer days and event-based volunteering. 

Topics: Employee Volunteering, Employee Engagement

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