There is a corporate social responsibility initiative germinating and I am impressed by the way it is shaping up. This project aims to educate support staff’s children and give employees a way to give back to society in their own little way.
Three aspects that excited me –
a) it is a bottom-up effort led by a handful of employees who feel strongly about the cause of education
b) it brings credibility and trust to the workplace just by making it accessible and real
c) it began small and is scalable
As we go about crafting a plan to launch this effort I wanted to blog about how we began, what we discussed and therefore share inputs so that you can be better prepared f you intend to begin a similar effort in the future.
As the internal communicator I got involved early enough to be able to get context and therefore contribute to the overall effort.
In the kick-off call, we discussed the idea, what it meant to manage the program and how it tied in with the organization’s overall CSR goals.
Here are questions I raised to get a better understanding –
1. Is this only a sponsorship opportunity? Does it open up possibilities for employees to give tuitions to these children? Can we do a pilot?
2. If we intend to gauge employees’ interest through a survey should we ask if they are keen to volunteer time and effort as well apart from funds?
3. Considering the effort it will take to own and drive such a large exercise, does it make sense to invite employees to join in as the core team?
4. As a core team member, what are the expectations and their responsibilities?
5. How did we arrive at this initiative? Why education?
6. What is our goal? How many are we hoping to educate or support in a year? Unless we have that goal, we may not be able to convince employees to sign up. Also at the end of the year when we communicate what we achieved, we can refer back to this goal.
7. How does this link to the company’s efforts on CSR?
8. How do we communicate with employees and how often? Who will be that spokesperson?
9. Can we have a way to capture employees’ strengths and talent so that we can leverage those when the time is ripe? For example, we may need someone who can write, another with leadership skills for organizing, someone who can hold an audience among others.
This meeting got us thinking about what employees may ask us if they heard of this initiative. Therefore we worked out a set of potential questions and created responses handy.
By putting down our thoughts on paper, we were able to reflect a lot more on what the objectives, benefits for employees, for those availing the funds, how much of time employees need to invest, how we recognize employees, how can employees avail tax advantages and lots more.
From my experience most initiatives fail at communicating consistently. While there is good intent, without periodic messages addressing progress and contributions employees lose interest and the program falls apart. We defined a formal plan which will launch the program, draw from key messages, share FAQs, run frequent polls and involve employees with the children through events and engage leaders.
This is where I sign off now. Will be back with more thoughts as we move along.
Were these insights relevant and useful to you? Drop a line on my post.