Volunteerism can pay off for companies and workers

Guest Column:
Carolyn Belisle
In a challenging economy, nothing seems more important for employers than productivity during the workday. The focus is on meeting your goals, serving the needs of your customers, managing major issues and/or creating innovative new products or services. While these are critical priorities, it’s also important to consider how your big picture could be positively impacted by other things, such as serving the community. More

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OP-ED / LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Volunteerism can pay off for companies and workers

Guest Column:
Carolyn Belisle
Posted 10/22/12

In a challenging economy, nothing seems more important for employers than productivity during the workday. The focus is on meeting your goals, serving the needs of your customers, managing major issues and/or creating innovative new products or services. While these are critical priorities, it’s also important to consider how your big picture could be positively impacted by other things, such as serving the community.

In late September, 750 Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island employees hit the pause button on their daily obligations and participated in a company-wide day of service. In reflection of the company’s health care mission, employees supported local nonprofits with health-centered activities ranging from supervising students’ wellness screenings to gathering produce at a farm to help agencies feed the hungry. In East Providence, for example, our employees rolled up the sleeves on their blue T-shirts to paint at the Boys & Girls Club. Boys & Girls Clubs contribute to making communities healthier in many ways, and working there together was the kind of positive health message that resonated internally.

Though calculating the return on investment for such activities might be difficult in basic financial terms, there is a clear benefit to the company, employees and community. While corporate volunteerism is often perceived simply as a public relations strategy, the reality is that smart companies engage in the civic life of a community for several reasons: to build relationships with local leaders, to understand the dynamics of the market the organization serves, and to create a sense of connection between the company and community.

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