Volunteer Awards: Lighting the way to employee engagement [Momentum Metropolitan Case Study]

How to shake up your corporate culture to create one that’s built around community, people and employee engagement. Today, we’d like to share an interview with one of forgood’s pioneering clients, Momentum Metropolitan, who use forgood to run both their employee volunteering programme and employee volunteer awards.

In 2015, only 25 people showed up at the inaugural Lesedi Awards at Momentum Metropolitan. Most of them were the organisers.

In 2019, the entire company vied for a place at a glittering ceremony held in the Pretoria CBD and attended by some of South Africa’s elite.

It took four years for Momentum Metropolitan to take their commitment to volunteerism to a level that not only engaged its employees, but inspired and motivated them.

Four years of hard work, painful lessons, and unexpected results.

“We had no avenue to formally recognise the volunteer work that our employees were doing in their own time,” explains Charlene Lackay, Group CSI Manager, Momentum Metropolitan. “We knew it was happening, and we wanted to build something that would recognise the different forms that shape volunteerism, from payroll giving to teams to individuals. This inspired us to create the Lesedi Awards – its name means ‘the light’ and its goal is to recognise the light that our volunteers bring to the lives of others.”

Charlene Lackay, Group CSI, Momentum Metropolitan

CSI capital can change philanthropy in South Africa

Finding momentum

The problem was that Momentum Metropolitan was starting from the beginning. Lesedi had the will, it had the way, but it didn’t have momentum. What was needed was a way to engage with employees, to inspire them to take up volunteer work, share their successes and inspire others to do the same. It was also important to build a culture of volunteering that emphasised the company’s commitment to CSI initiatives that deliver real results.

“The first two years were hard work. In the first year we had only 85 nominations and 25 attendees at the event. It was terrible,” says Lackay. “Everything was done manually and the mechanics were still figuring themselves out. We had to work out who was eligible, the criteria for judging, the philosophy for volunteering, and get people to engage with the awards.”

Initially, the Lesedi values were trickled through the company using internal channels and word of mouth. The nominations were only from the main offices in Centurion, Durban and Sandton and they included international offices from the outset. As the awards grew in popularity and reach, more and more satellite offices became involved. In fact, since its inception, many of the Lesedi Awards winners have come from across Africa.

“On top of getting people involved, we had to build a system where they could nominate themselves and others which meant building a new platform on our intranet,” says Lackay. “Then we had to find a judging panel and resolve the criteria and fine tune the fine print. It was one steep learning curve. We had to ensure it was transparent, that every entry was treated fairly, and stick to our guns when things didn’t quite work out.”

The cost of ignoring Employee Volunteering Programmes. You can ignore this link. But it will cost you.

I’m not telling

One of the biggest hurdles faced by Momentum Metropolitan’s Lesedi Awards may surprise you. It wasn’t the legalities and the transparencies or even the processes and applications. It was the fact that people just didn’t want other people to know that they were volunteering.

“They did not want to be outed,” laughs Lackay. “So, we had to find an incentive. Something that would inspire people to share their stories and their volunteer work.”

Using smart tools, incentives and insights, the team managed to overcome the challenge of employee visibility and create an awards ceremony that captured not just the attention of their people, but the industry.

Employee Volunteering Awards that deliver results…

Find out exactly how Charlene and her team got over the hurdles of secrecy, transparency and engagement in Part 2 of this series.

Interested in running an employee volunteering programme for your corporate employees? Join 15 other leading South African brands. Speak to forgood today.

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