Flexible workspace operators across the globe are constantly carrying out acts of social good. Some do it by donating space, others by volunteering time, and others by providing mentorship. In the end, it’s not the how that matters but the why (and just the fact of doing it).
In a sense, many operators are the perfect example of actions speak louder than words, as more often than not, we are all unaware of how flexible workspace operators are doing their bit and giving back.
At GCUC this year in New York City, I had the chance of catching up with Martin Senn and Bill Grodnik from Davinci Virtual Office Solutions. As we got talking about community and projects like AllGoodWork, Martin and Bill soon let me into how Davinci gives back to its local community. I have to admit, I absolutely love Davinci’s approach to giving back.
Giving Back and Corporate Culture
“What we found about 4 or 5 years into our journey is that we had to really focus on how we would continue to maintain and foster our corporate culture. The way we see it is that, at the end of the day if you have a happy employee, you will have a lot of benefits as a company,” said Bill.
To retain employees, you need to engage with them. Davinci wanted to do a better job of engaging with employees, so they embarked on a 6 month project that would help them find some answers.
“We did a project with outside resources and help; we analysed why individuals chose to join our company, how the process was for them, and what their Davinci life-cycle looked like. Our goal was to figure out what we could do better or do different to engage more with them, and we also wanted to learn what we were already doing right.”
Their efforts paid off, as Davinci found what they were looking for…and more.
“We confirmed the importance of employee engagement. Once they get past the initial excitement of a new job and training for it, it becomes crucial to continue a high-level of engagement and give them value and opportunity. If not, they get into this sort of status quo where they feel that they can’t grow anymore and the excitement of joining wears off.”
Now comes the tough part. How do you keep employees engaged?
“We surveyed our employees and other companies and found that, for one, you have to provide your staff with a career opportunity within the company; not just a job, but a career. Just as important is the fact that employees also want to be engaged with the day to day operations of business.”
Ok, so career and day to day operations of business. But how do you get them to actively want to participate?
“There was an interesting correlation, we found that for staff to participate more in team building events and the like, the event had to be a part of a giving back effort.”
“Our challenge became: how do we best create this type of opportunity (to give back), not on an annual or quarterly basis, but on an ongoing basis?”
Davinci (constantly) Gives Back
After speaking with several team members, Davinci decided that the best way to give back was to focus on their local community.
“We decided to give back to our local community and local causes that we have a direct connect to. We can make a significant impact in our local community; we also draw benefits from this community (our staff and talent) so it seemed only natural we give back to them.”
“Additionally, this also allows us to get personally involved and not just send a check at the end of the month.”
So, how does it work? More like, how does Davinci make it work?
“We started by creating a position: the full time Culture Fairy, aka our HR manager.” Bill explained that the culture fairy is in charge of leading all communications with employees to find out what they care about, causes or organizations that they would like to get involved with. The culture fairy then created a project where all employees could nominate a cause and participate in.
“I think Davinci’s giving back program fosters a positive work culture because it shows each employee that we are supported, whether the charities employees suggest are personal or just a passion. It also teaches everyone who works here about giving back and paying it forward when you have success.” – Kristina McNeil, Culture Fairy (HR Manager) at Davinci
Davinci supports each organization or cause financially, but also in kind. “We take part in charity runs and we also volunteer hours. And we do this religiously every single month.”
Although many might think they could run into a shortage of local causes to support, Bill tells us that’s not the case. “We continue to have a backlog of charities and activities that our staff want to be involved in.”
How They Give Back
There’s always a financial component to Davinci’s donation, but it’s not a number picked at random.
“We have an attrition goal in Davinci. If we miss our attrition goal–which is usually the case–then everyone can wear casual clothes, but they will also donate $15-$20 for the cause we are supporting that month. In addition to this, we do internal and external fundraisers (bake sales, car washes) and then the company matches the funds, dollar for dollar, that the employees raised.”
This approach, “created a bridge between employees and companies. We’re all in it together.”
“But, the value is also seen when we participate in kind. When we participate on a Saturday run, or volunteer hours. This month for example (May), the cause we are supporting is Dress For Success, so our female staff members are all donating clothes for the cause and we are also going to participate in an evening event to help raise funds.”
“I have been volunteering for Dress for Success for the past 2 years, and Davinci’s owners did not hesitate to support this amazing organization. I have seen many women in my family and community go through difficult times financially, and Dress for Success gives women the tools to support themselves and their families. It is a wonderful, worthy cause, and it means a lot to me that I work for a company that supports not only its employees, but the community as a whole,” Kristina said.
Davinci supports a different cause every month; and when needed “we have supported our own as well,” commented Bill.
“We’ve helped with funeral costs for relatives, with medical bills for employees and families, and we’ve helped replace a stolen bicycle.”
In the end, it’s about fostering a true sense of community, both within and outside the walls of the workplace.
Touched By Davinci
Operation Underground Railroad
Sealants 4 Smiles
Tour de Cure
Jewish Family Service
No Kid Hungry
The Road Home
National Ability Center