REPRESENTATIVES of Západoslovenská Energetika (ZSE), Orion Nova and Dell emerged as winners of the Employee Volunteering Awards Slovakia at the third Corporate Philanthropy Forum held on November 11. They were recognised for projects to involve their employees in volunteering. ZSE and Orion Nova also advanced to the European round of the European Employee Volunteering Awards taking place as part of European Volunteering Year 2011, the Pontis Foundation, the event organiser, informed The Slovak Spectator.
ZSE won its award in the category for large companies based on its project Energy for the Best Ideas of Young People, whose aim is to activate the potential of secondary school students. Orion Nova received its award in the small-companies category for the project Luctor et Emergo, aimed at educating and training young, long-term unemployed people living at the Dom na pol ceste shelter. Iwan Hofmans, the legal representative of the company as well as the youngsters’ coach, works with clients from the shelter by providing sheltered and supported employment and accommodation. Ten young people have got jobs with Orion Nova thanks to this initiative so far. In the ‘beginner’ category the jury did not choose a winner, but granted an honourable mention to Dell for its planning and preparation of the project I Will Find a Job!
The Slovak Spectator spoke to Ján Orlovský, spokesperson of ZSE, and Tatiana Šurinová, the programme manager at Dell’s European Trade Centre in Bratislava, about their projects and what winning the award and the honourable mention meant for the companies.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What does winning this award mean for your company?
Ján Orlovský (JO): This award is a great encouragement for us to continue with the start-up initiative the Best Idea, which has had a great response among students at secondary
technical schools as well as high schools.
Simultaneously, it is confirmation that we chose the right direction, and it obliges us to make greater efforts when involving our employees in volunteering with students and schools. The award itself has also pleased our partners in the project Uni 2010, who on a volunteer basis help to link successful business persons and company representatives as motivators at meetings with students to promote independent thinking, business attitudes and activate their potential.
Tatiana Šurinová (TŠ): The project I Will Find a Job! is at its beginning and the honourable mention is a great encouragement for all those who initiated the project as well as those who will carry it out. We equally recognise all the impulses and inspirations arriving from the organisers of the competition to evaluate the projects.
TSS: Could you describe the volunteering activities for which your company was recognised?
JO: The Best Idea focuses on students at secondary technical schools and helps them develop business thinking and shape their technical idea into a business plan. The programme is actually a long-term cooperation with schools in order that students can, after finishing school, continue developing their ideas. The initiative combines a contest and an incubation process for good ideas from students in the field of renewable energy resources; it joins students who are future prospective businesspeople with current managers and businesspeople. Volunteers from among the ranks of ZSE’s employees joined in, particularly in the preparation phase of the project. They were part of the team of consultants and one was in the jury for the programme’s final stage. Other employees participated in the tour, during which they introduced to students the work of a manager and acquainted them with the process of and preparation for selection of employees. They also joined the online voting for students’ ideas and thus provided them with feedback on their proposals. Within the first year of the initiative (2009-2010) some teams were addressed by businesspeople from the jury and invited to cooperate further on the ideas.
TŠ: The whole project I Will Find a Job! has grown from the bottom up, i.e. from our employees themselves. The employees standing behind this initiative know the profile of a good candidate in the labour market. They know what skills and knowledge those who want to succeed should have. From this there is only a small step to the transfer of this information to the target group, which in our case consists of young people from orphanages and asylum and crisis centres. During the project colleagues will apply their practical experience from the classical recruitment process.
TSS: What reasons stood behind the decision to prepare this volunteering project? What contributions do you expect it to attract?
JO: The programme The Best Idea reflects the absence of a platform for students at secondary technical schools to connect the field of energy and the environment with the real world of business. In particular, we perceive an unsatisfactory level of awareness by students in the field of the environment, renewable energy resources and energy usage, as well as their low interest in electrical energy studies. The decision to focus on this target group also stems from the long-term need to prepare and educate successors in technical positions, where demographic development indicates that a higher number of employees will leave for retirement in the next few years. For this reason there is an urgent need to establish a long-term relationship with secondary technical schools via an attractive programme.
TŠ: For us, the project has an exclusively philanthropic dimension, even though it is possible to see behind it the building of a better labour market. We think that young people, who are at the receiving end of this project, could otherwise obtain similar skills and information only with great difficulty.
I Will Find a Job! consists of four pillars: to inspire an active interest among project participants in finding a suitable job, to evaluate the candidate, and to provide practical help when preparing a CV or letter of motivation, and in preparation for an interview.
TSS:What are your company’s other volunteering activities? What are your future plans in this field?
JO: The ZSE group has been developing volunteering activities for several years. We at ZSE have the opportunity to devote one full working day to a volunteering activity, and this day is treated as a normal worked day.
ZSE started to become actively involved in volunteering in 2004, when tens of our employees helped remedy damage caused by the storm in the High Tatras. Since 2007 our company has been part of the Our Bratislava project. Each year the number of ZSE employees joining this project has increased – from a humble 13 in 2007 to 99 in 2010. In 2009 a total of 291 employees joined volunteering activities and we hope that this year the number will be even higher. In general, ZSE employees are active in charity, donating blood, education, social help, protection and support of health, as well as helping the environment.
A very popular form of volunteering is the employment sponsor fund. This was launched in 2004 with the idea of supporting the personal initiatives of our employees and helping good projects in their surroundings. This is a form of ‘matching grant’, where the input of the employee is either money or voluntary work worth up to €300. ZSE then adds two or three times as much help, i.e. up to €900.
TŠ: Dell’s European Trade Centre in Bratislava supports three main directions of volunteering. We actively work in the environmental field, in childcare and in charity. Within these, volunteers form individual teams to carry out tens of projects in various areas each year. For our company it is very important to maintain the spirit of volunteering, solidarity and initiative over the long term. We think that activities like I Will Find a Job! form our environment in a positive way and bring much-needed balance to working activities.
6. Dec 2010 at 0:00