Community and Career: Lessons from a Crash Course in Corporate Community Involvement
As part of the Protective Life internship program, our summer interns spend a day learning about the Protective Life Foundation’s work in the community and volunteering at a local nonprofit organization.
This year’s field trip kicked off at Ronald McDonald House, where the interns learned about how to identify the right community service opportunities from Katherine Billmeier, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House Charity of Alabama; Danny McKinney, community leader and managing partner at McKinney Capital; and Eva Robertson, executive director of the Protective Life Foundation. Other stops included the Alabama Theatre and Sidewalk Film Festival where Amy Templeton, president and CEO of McWane Science Center joined the group for a visit; lunch at the Pizitz Food Hall and volunteering at Jones Valley Teaching Farm. The day culminated in a panel discussion about civic innovation led by Rachel Harmon from the City of Birmingham’s Office of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, Anthony Hood of UAB and Atticus Rominger of REV Birmingham.
“This field trip not only changed how I look at community and culture but inspired me to make an impact myself,” one summer intern said. “Once you know how to serve and learn how to see what people truly need, then you can lead and help make the impact you see may be necessary.”
Accounting intern Isaac Bell learned that giving back to the community through both time and financial support is vital to the success of a company and the community.
“Always try to have a grateful spirit, and help those around you,” he said.
Courtney Howard, an intern working with Protective’s legal team, agreed.
“Because I know the best leaders serve others, I don’t see myself being able to have a successful career without serving my community,” she said. “Protective’s commitment to serving the community is one of the main things that attracted me to apply for its summer internship. Being exposed to what Protective does and some of the organizations Protective supports has shown us that Protective isn’t a company that just talks about giving back to the community to make us interested in the company. Protective really stands behind its mission to serve people. Knowing that my employer supports community efforts is very important.”
Read more: Making a Difference to Local Nonprofits
Benefits of Corporate Community Involvement
The most important benefit of community service is the positive effect giving back has on individuals and organizations in need. But what impact can corporate community involvement have on employees and the company itself?
Here are four additional benefits of corporate community involvement:
Leadership coach Peter Bregman writes for Harvard Business Review that a simple solution for anyone looking to improve their leadership skills is to practice in low-risk situations. Community organizations often welcome those who are willing to learn by doing. This creates an opportunity to give back while developing a skill. For example, someone who wants to improve their communication skills may benefit from volunteer opportunities that involve speaking to different groups of people. Speaking to groups in a low-risk environment may make it easier the next time they have to give a presentation to a room full of peers.
It’s true what they say – teamwork makes the dream work. A study by UnitedHealth Group found that 64 percent of employees who volunteer said that volunteering with work colleagues strengthened their relationships. Almost half of the study participants stated that volunteering had helped their career, with 87 percent of those saying that it helped them develop people skills and teamwork skills.
Recruitment and Retention
Community involvement contributes to improving ability to recruit employees and reduce turnover according to more than 80 percent of companies that participated in the 2019 Corporate Community Involvement Study. The study, conducted by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, also found that among the companies that measure connection between employee participation in community involvement programs to creation of business value, 95 percent find a positive correlation between employee volunteering and higher employee engagement scores.
Health and Wellness
Researchers have found that people who volunteer may be happier and experience improved self-esteem. They may also have lower blood pressure and be less stressed. These effects benefit not only the individual, but the employer as well through reduced health care costs, improved performance and better overall engagement.
Learn More About Community Involvement at Protective Life
At Protective Life, serving people is one of the four values on which the company is built. We work together to better the places we live and to improve the world we share. Through corporate giving, group activities and individual efforts, Protective and its employees exemplify the corporate mission of protecting tomorrow by embracing our commitment today. Throughout the year, the Protective Life Foundation organizes volunteer initiatives that offer employees the opportunity to actively serve our local nonprofits and thousands of people touched by their assistance and support.
Visit protective.com to learn more about the Protective Life Foundation and working at Protective Life.