Case Study: How Visa taps into volunteering to keep its hybrid workforce engaged

How does Visa's volunteering galvanize its remote workforce 'and' cement its desire to have a better social purpose? We asked Benevity's Sona Khosla to reveal all:'

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Dec 6, 2023

It’s entirely logical that – thanks to their physical separation – remote and hybrid employees feel much less connected to their companies’ mission and purpose than ever, and with all the erosion to employee loyalty that this entails.

And it’s not just me saying this. This is the main finding of a recent Gallup Survey, and it’s a trend that’s increasingly worrying corporate leaders across all industries and sectors.

In an effort to re-engage their workforce, a growing number of high profile CEOs are trending toward having employees return to the office for certain days of the week. But without meaningful ways of engaging employees in a hybrid workspace, simply returning to previous practices will not mend the erosion that’s already taken place.

Reversing the erosion

As any HR practitioner will know, reversing this erosion is complicated.

But fostering a sense of shared purpose and increasing employee connection is possible in a hybrid work world.

So how? With today’s rise in distributed work, one often-overlooked opportunity is the renewed importance of corporate volunteering and giving.

Educating companies about this is something I think about all the time, in my role helping corporate leaders build meaningful connections among their workforces and within their communities.

And one company that really is successfully engaging its employees across the globe by emphasizing these types of community actions at the local level is Visa, in partnership with Visa Foundation.

Visa – how it’s making a case for corporate purpose

The world payments leader (and client of the company I work for, Benevity), is enabling its employees to lift up others through its volunteering and giving initiatives.

In fiscal year 2022, 80% of Visa’s global workforce participated in programs designed to give back to local communities — and it’s no coincidence Visa’s latest employee survey showed strong results for connection to company purpose and strategy, along with pride in working for the company.

Tying purpose to company mission

In conversations with Visa’s corporate purpose leaders, they have said a key driver behind the organization’s strong connection score is the intentional alignment between Visa’s giving programs and its mission to advance digital and financial inclusion and equity.

Visa has worked hard to create this bridge, providing a range of opportunities and involvement levels for employees to participate.

In June 2020, for example, the company set a goal to digitally enable 50 million small businesses across the globe — and it was 80% of the way there by the end of 2022.

To align its actions with its intention, Visa launched community-based programs in cities from Dubai to Washington, D.C. to help local businesses adopt the infrastructure required to accept digital payments, enabling these companies to gain greater access to the digital economy.

At the same time, Visa has developed partnerships with other local organizations that support small businesses, providing employees ongoing virtual opportunities to give their time and expertise to mentoring business owners and entrepreneurs in their communities.

Employees also have the opportunity to get involved through Visa’s FinEd initiative, a program in which employees can help deliver financial education sessions designed to support ongoing financial empowerment and inclusion.

What I love most about Visa’s approach to volunteerism is that the company’s leaders have enabled employees to give back alongside their coworkers, no matter which city or country they call home.

The ability to participate is not restricted to those who live near corporate offices in major metros, or even to employees with the ability to travel to volunteer sites.

Instead, programs, like mentoring small business owners, are designed with a hybrid work world in mind — not reformatted from previously all in-office or all-remote times.

Empowering employees to give back

Another aspect of Visa’s approach to purpose that really stands out is how the company empowers employees to lead volunteering efforts.

For example, a global employee network of community and volunteer leaders play an integral role in designing social impact initiatives and engaging employees to take part in them at the local level.

The community volunteer leads organize and execute volunteering opportunities that are both hybrid or virtual.

But Visa takes employee volunteerism and engagement a step further through programs under Visa Foundation. The Foundation provides opportunities for employees to support the causes and organizations near and dear to them.

The Visa Foundation Gives Program offers employees an opportunity to nominate and vote on the social issues they are most passionate about addressing in the communities surrounding Visa offices.

After voting closes, a non-profit is selected to receive grants of up to $250,000 from Visa Foundation.

Additionally, employees have several opportunities to meaningfully volunteer with selected nonprofits throughout the year.

Employees can also show their support for their favorite causes year-round through programs that enable them to donate to non-profits and have their contributions matched by Visa Foundation.

By expanding the definition of “volunteerism” in a hybrid work world, Visa supports its employees in logging volunteer hours for any service activity that makes their community a better place to live.

With a flexible program in place, employees can contribute to Visa’s mission in the ways that feel and work best for them — allowing space for each employee’s approach to evolve as new opportunities arise.

Unifying culture through positive action

Smart corporate purpose leaders know it’s critical to tie community programs to their company mission, while simultaneously empowering employees to support the causes that matter most to them.

In a hybrid work world, it’s easier said than done, but Visa and Visa Foundation are proof there are creative ways to accomplish both goals when you meet employees where they are.

As Visa’s corporate purpose leaders have said, driving employee involvement in social impact initiatives is helping foster pride, engagement, and positive impact in our communities.

It’s time to ask yourself, do your corporate initiatives and policies do the same?

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