The Changing Face of Recruitment & Volunteerism
You may have heard the chatter, read the articles and, in some cases, experienced firsthand the ‘changing’ work environments that affect both recruitment and retention of a quality workforce.
Everything from the different approaches and needs of a new generation, to the difficulty of finding skilled staff with academic training in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and the pervasive global economic uncertainty has contributed to this change. For us, this is a new and interesting challenges: With nearly a century of experience delivering management and technology consulting services to clients, Booz Allen Hamilton has built, and regularly refines, a culture of engagement to weather such changes.
The Changing Face of Recruitment
As a consulting firm, our people are our product, and we give the greatest care to cultivate employees, involving them in innovative ways so that they remain connected and engaged. Our community partnerships program plays a crucial role in our internal employee engagement initiatives and are often cited as one of the primary reasons by candidates for choosing Booz Allen as their employer of choice.
1. Employee-Centric Funding
At the most basic level, the decision to support a nonprofit is often based on whether there is existing employee involvement (or high potential to grow involvement) with that organization. We call it an employee-centric approach to funding.
Recent employee surveys indicate that close to 60 percent of respondents volunteered with a nonprofit organization within the past year. With a limited amount of funds available, this employee-focused approach helps ensure our employees are fully committed to the organizations we support. Time and again we see that this works out better for the nonprofits as well as our employees because knowing that their firm supports their initiatives helps them go above and beyond basic fundraising and volunteer activities.
2. Extending Impact to Friends & Family
The next level of employee engagement through community partnerships involves team-based activities and the involvement of family and friends in volunteer activities.
The past few years have seen a dramatic increase in incoming requests for assistance in building community involvement activities. Often, teams will invite nonprofits to come speak to them about their missions and the needs in the community, and will then tie-in a community involvement-focused team building activity to their meeting.
Recent examples include making care packages for deployed troops, assembling brown bag lunches for the homeless, or even constructing bicycles for disadvantaged children. All of these can be tied to a game or exercise that strengthens relationships, and fosters teamwork.
In 2011, 9,300 employees reported volunteering 32,455 hours for firm-sponsored volunteer and philanthropic activities. When adding in friends and family, those hours and numbers grow significantly higher.
Since Booz Allen does not provide time during the workday for our employees to volunteer, we look for opportunities where individuals can participate with their friends and family. We’ve had employees who have brought skilled plumbers and carpenters in their extended family to assist in rebuilding houses, children in need of community service credits for school requirements, and even their pets to help ease anxiety and loneliness in individuals in nursing homes and hospitals.
3. Pro Bono & Skills-Based Volunteerism
The most intricate level of employee engagement is our pro bono and skills-based volunteer activities. Over the past three years, Booz Allen has contributed more than 10,000 hours of employee time through almost 50 pro bono projects with a multimillion-dollar fair market value provided to nonprofits nationwide.
Additionally, these projects have helped develop staff skills and qualifications that may support proposals and contracts in the future. New generations entering the workforce look for ways to enhance their skills and are eager to seek out opportunities to learn new skills like financial and people management, which might otherwise be hard to access in entry-level positions.
Having the opportunity to build their skills – and network through volunteering ultimately helps them grow and develop more rapidly in the workplace.
Challenge: Making Workplace Volunteerism Last
As work environments continue to change and evolve, we’re struck with new challenges and, within those challenges, opportunities to ensure we can attract and retain top talent.
We are continually reimagining our community partnerships programs, and looking for ways to make them flexible and sustainable to meet the ever-changing needs of our business, staff, and communities.
We are embarking on new nonprofit partnerships and applying different lenses to existing programs with the intent of creating shared value, strengthening and communicating our corporate citizenship activities to attract high-quality candidates, and finding ways to enhance volunteer opportunities to help our critical stakeholders — our employees — enhance their skills while becoming crucial partners of our communities worldwide in providing solutions that are meaningful and long term.