Virtual volunteering allows more employees to give time and talent
February 10, 2020
In an era of flexwork, Zurich North America is making it easier for employees across the U.S. and Canada to contribute to community service activities
Flexible work arrangements have produced a new label for today’s global workforce: Generation Flex. Over half of workers globally work outside of their main office at least 2.5 days per week, according to a 2019 survey from the International Workplace Group.
Yet whether they work at home, at headquarters or at a branch office thousands of miles away, employees want to participate in their company’s community impact activities.
Zurich North America is making it easier for its nearly 9,000 employees across the U.S. and Canada to help. New “virtual volunteering” opportunities enable Zurich’s team members to join in volunteer activities anytime from just about anywhere. Employees can find volunteer options using the Zurich Cares online platform, which lists opportunities, provides details about the commitment and simplifies sign-up.
From California to Connecticut, Zurich employees have long supported Zurich’s charitable commitments with local events such as Habitat for Humanity builds for their teams and customers. Virtual volunteerism is the next evolution. Zurich offers opportunities to help organizations such as Humanity Rising, for which employees mentor students over email or Skype. Another is the Missing Maps program, through which employees can help the Red Cross map vulnerable areas to support relief efforts in disasters. Through the Phil’s Friends Cards of Hope project, Zurich employees can make cards for people with cancer.
“Virtual volunteer opportunities are great for remote workers as well as those who may find it difficult to volunteer onsite because of a disability or family obligations,” said Andrea Davis, director of Employee Experience & Culture for Zurich North America. “We want to give employees more ways to feel included in our collective impact.”
The Zurich Cares platform is a key resource for volunteers. It allows employees to not only identify opportunities but also make charitable donations and enter their service hours, even for volunteer activities that are not planned or sponsored by Zurich. Tracking all hours provides a fuller picture of Zurich’s community impact, a source of pride and passion for employees, and indicates activities that employees enjoy. It’s also a factor in the support that the Z Zurich Foundation provides.
At Zurich’s North American headquarters in Schaumburg, Illinois, virtual components have been added to fundraisers such as an annual 5k. Participants can register as part of the Schaumburg team, but complete the run or walk at any park or track of their choosing.
Zurich added a virtual counterpart to a “Make and Take” workshop in Schaumburg, where employees bought holiday craft kits and assembled them at headquarters. For those who couldn’t attend, Zurich sold online crafting kits with instructions so employees could make them offsite. Proceeds went to Zurich’s charities.
Employees are praising the expansion of virtual volunteering opportunities and the Zurich Cares platform.
Debbie Law, a Claims Administration Senior Coordinator who works in a Zurich office in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, signed up to mentor teens via Humanity Rising.
I could do this on my own time … It helped me feel more connected to the ‘core’ of Zurich.—Debbie Law, Zurich Claims
"I could do this on my own time at home. It was also a good way for me to relax when taking a break in the office,” Law said. “It helped me to feel more connected to the ‘core’ of Zurich."
Kingston Bowen, a Maryland-based National Account Executive in Zurich’s Direct Markets F&I business, recently won a Community Investment Volunteer Award at Zurich, which came with $6,000 he could donate to the charity of his choice. He used Zurich Cares to request that his chosen charity, World Central Kitchen, be added as an approved recipient of donations.
“The Zurich Cares site was easy to use,” Bowen said. “Soon after, I received confirmation that the charity was approved.”
Cards of Hope caught the eye of Sufia Khan, an Underwriting Services Specialist at Zurich’s headquarters, when she visited the Zurich Cares site.
“I instantly thought of my younger sister and me working on this together, as we both love anything to do with creativity,” Khan said. “It also gave us a chance to discuss a heavy topic, such as terminal illness, and how giving just a little bit of our time can empower someone else going through a difficult period in their life. I don’t believe there is a big or small way of volunteering — and that’s why I find this virtual volunteering so important.”