Small Change, Big Impact: SEEK’s Workplace Giving Program
If you’ve ever been in the market for a new job, odds are that you have turned to SEEK.
Right now there are more than 167,000 jobs advertised on SEEK across Australia.
Turns out that SEEK is is also an excellent employer. There are many perks working at SEEK (counselling, massages, various concierge services), but SEEK also helps employees help others and has been nominated for the Best Overall Program at this year’s Workplace Giving Excellence Awards.
Ahead of the awards ceremony, Kathleen McCudden, Group HR Director of SEEK, tells us how the organisation goes about giving back.
One of SEEK’s primary beliefs is having a positive impact on society. Beyond SEEK’s core purpose in helping people live productive and fulfilling working lives, we also bring this to life in a number of ways that impact the community:
- SEEK Volunteer – our online platform connecting charities with volunteers.
- Small Change – our workplace giving program.
- Volunteer Day paid leave – supporting our employees to volunteer at a charity of their choice.
In 2014, we decided to relaunch our Workplace Giving Program. Workplace giving had always existed at SEEK, however we hadn’t focused on the program and what problems it helped solve within the community. The decision to reignite our Workplace Giving Program was driven by internal research identifying that our employees were very proud that we had a social investment and Workplace Giving Program, but they wanted more clarity and direction on the program itself.We have a ‘people first’ culture at SEEK, so it was essential for us to engage our workforce in the creation of our new program. At SEEK our people care deeply about the community and the work SEEK does to help people connect with employment and the outcome of this research reflected their desire to do more.To do this, we ran focus groups across the business and worked with key stakeholders, such as the Executive and Senior Managers.
Choosing charity partners that our employees care about with was pivotal. We did this by asking our employees which types of causes they were passionate about giving back to (ie, environment, animals, children).
Another essential ingredient to the successful relaunch of our program came from speaking with other organisations like The Australian Charities Fund about workplace giving in Australia. The Australian Charities Fund have tremendous insight and experience in workplace giving, so it was important to collaborate and hear their successes and learnings.
With feedback on the causes our people wanted to support, we partnered with 10 charities with varying causes, programs and community impacts on a local and national scale:
Lort Smith Animal Hospital, Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Big Issue, Cathy Freeman Foundation, The Smith Family, STREAT, Lifeline, Alannah and Madeline Foundation, Canteen, Starlight Foundation
The wide range of charities and causes mean that all employees can find a charity they feel a connection to as well as those that are aligned to SEEK’s purpose.
From there our new workplace giving program, Small Change, was launched. Small Change allows employees to make small, regular donations to charity through their pre-tax salary.
To date, 62% of our workforce participate in our program, which shows the success of our ongoing work to deepen the relationship between our employees and the charities we partner with.
We’re proud our program is ‘opt in’ as it demonstrates that our people and SEEK share the same ethos; helping those in need and supporting the charities that provide essential goods and services to our communities.
BRINGING SMALL CHANGE TO LIFE
Bringing to life the impact our people have on the community is an essential part of a successful workplace giving program.
We keep our workplace giving program, Small Change, educational, inspiring and engaging at SEEK. All of our activity is channeled with the view to inspire, educate and connect our people to charities and causes they care about.
Some examples of this being brought to life have been:
- Visits from Lort Smith Animal Hospital foster animals to raise awareness of their work and encourage sign-ups to Small Change.
- Using SEEK culture events, such as our SEEK Footy match which had a Small Change banner for players to run through and staff asking employees to sign-up during the event.
- Guest speakers from Small Change partners so people can learn intimately about their causes and programs.
- We also bring this awareness to life by sharing our charities’ deeply personal stories on posters in high-traffic areas, such as the coffee machine and drinks fridge. We actively remove barriers that prevent our people from signing up easily to Small Change by incorporating user-friendly methods, such as QR codes on posters and mobile friendly sign-up forms. We do the rest!
Small Change is part of a SEEK employees’ lifespan, starting at the recruitment process. All new staff are also sent Small Change information and a registration form with their employee contract, which comes as no surprise as we will have already spoken about our program in interviews.
To date, SEEK employees have had a profound impact on the community. We have helped Canteen provide over 475 hours of face-to-face support and vital services to young people living with cancer, including Good Grief programs, peer support activations and online counselling services.
SEEK assists The Big Issue with practical support for their vendors, such as laminating “display copies” of the magazine for them to hold while they are selling. SEEK also assists in providing vendors protectors to prevent the magazine they are selling from getting damaged. We also support The Big Issue Women’s Subscription Enterprise, assisting in providing job opportunities for homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged women.
Since 2014, SEEK has also contributed to the Lort Smith Animal Hospital, assisting in pro bono antibiotic courses for over 5000 sick animals. These are stats that make our employees really proud.
Our people are proud and passionately believe in our workplace giving program as a vehicle to do good in the community. In May 2017, our bi-annual engagement Insight Survey results showed that 93% of our employees feel that SEEK’s commitment to social responsibility is genuine.
WORDS OF WISDOM – ADVICE FOR LAUNCHING A WORKPLACE GIVING PROGRAM
- Engage your employees – understand the causes they want to give to and why.
- Understand how your workplace giving program links to your business strategy and culture. For example, SEEK is a fun and relaxed environment, so a formal opt-out program would not be suitable. Instead, we bring Small Change to life through events and information in our internal newsletter, and getting our leaders involved. Also, our Small Change program is linked to one of our business beliefs of having a positive impact on society.
- Understand what outcome you are working towards and how it fits with your culture – do you want all staff to be signed-up, or it is it more about offering the program and allowing people to opt-in? At SEEK, we choose an opt-in approach, as it’s about offering the program, explaining the benefits to the employee (give directly from pre-tax salary, SEEK matches donations) and to the charity. Employees then choose to take part. We don’t use guilt – education on the program is our primary focus.
- Work on how to continually bring your program to life, so it’s more than just the ‘launch’ event.
Through our company’s workplace giving program, Small Change, I personally choose to make a monthly donation and many of my colleagues also give back by volunteering their time to help charities or donating unwanted items, like food and clothing.For businesses looking to establish a workplace giving program, engaging employees from the start is critical. The chosen charities have to reflect what the company stands for and also the passions of the people who work there if you want to have strong participation.
The Australian Charities Fund has guides to workplace giving.
The Workplace Giving Excellence Awards are part of the One Million Donors campaign. The campaign’s mission is spearheaded by The Australian Charities Fund with a mission to see one million Australians donating to charity direct from their pay by 2020.
Winners of the Awards will be announced on 2 November.
Kathleen McCudden, SEEK, October 18, 2017, article as appeared in the Generosity Magazine