a future that works spoke to Sophie Sigalas, Executive of People Strategy at HESTA about their culture of giving and why they encourage employees to volunteer on company time.
HESTA is an industry superannuation fund managing $37 billion for over 820,000 members in health and community services, making it one of Australia’s top super funds. As the industry super fund for community and primary health care workers, childcare workers, nurses, midwives and aged care workers, a culture founded on empathy and giving is part of the organisation’s core values, says Sophie Sigalas.
Their volunteering program which is part of their overall learning offering allows all full-time employees six days of paid leave a year to volunteer.
Employees have previously donated their time in the sustainability space, housing and community services and mentoring, but most employees choose the health and community service sector to give back.
“Volunteer leave has been in place for a long time and we are generous with it because it allows employees an opportunity to give their time to the community rather than focusing solely on a financial contribution,” Sigalas said.
“In our work, employees become very connected to our members and work with them daily, so it feels natural for them to give back and we just give them the opportunity to do so.”
To ensure employees are also enhancing their skills, last year HESTA began a new system allowing employees to assemble profiles of their skills and experiences to match themselves to volunteer programs and not-for-profits.
Employees identified their current skill set and determined what skills would be beneficial to them in their role in the future.
“Assisting people from all walks of life enables employees to see different perspectives, for example someone on the people and culture team can improve their communication, organisation, planning and coaching capabilities,” said Ms Sigalas.
HESTA’s strategic aim is have their volunteer program evolve into an online portal accessible to employees and organisations looking for volunteers, matching availabilities and skills, similar to a specialised search engine.
“The online portal would allow organisations and charities to post their volunteer opportunities and what their needs are so employees can select placements based on their availabilities and skills,” Ms Sigalas said.
“This program has value to both the workplace and the community at large and employees are reminded of the impact of their contributions at the Diversity Morning Tea held at the end of each year. Employee efforts are presented to the whole team creating a strong community culture and allowing workers to recognise and value the difference they have made.”
Among others initiatives, HESTA employees have donated clothes for disadvantaged women through Fitted For Work, partnered with Red Cross for blood donation and worked with TLC for Kids to provide presents to needy children at Christmas, rather than holding an office Kris Kringle.
Ms Sigalas said this whole-of-workplace approach is part of establishing and preserving the culture of generosity at HESTA.
“We invest in our culture, and as a result our employees are engaged, active and contributing members of the community.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Our research indicates that increasingly workers are looking for roles that serve something important beyond themselves and contribute to the common good (Delivering Purpose and Meaning).