15 Aug How Mutual of Omaha Gives Employees Time Off to Spread Social Good
The competition to hire — and retain — talented employees is more fierce than ever. In fact, more U.S. workers are voluntarily quitting their jobs than at any time since the numbers have been recorded, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With historically low unemployment, employers are highly invested in keeping their workers engaged, feeling fulfilled in their jobs and proud to be working for their companies. In addition to paid-time off, family leave and sabbaticals, more employers are now offering volunteer time off (VTO).
Under this new workplace benefit, employers are allowing workers to participate in community service projects on company time and paying their usual wages (although employees usually need to get their manager’s approval first).
VTO offers a lot of benefits to employers too. A 2017 UnitedHealthcare survey found that workers who regularly volunteer report lower stress, better moods and an enriched sense of purpose. Fully 75 percent of employees said volunteering made them feel physically healthier. Many employers also believe VTO keeps workers engaged, more productive, and satisfied in their jobs.
Mutual of Omaha is one such company. The insurance and financial services giant offers a robust VTO program and gives plenty of opportunities for employees to volunteer on company time. Throughout the summer, for instance, more than 150 of its Omaha-based employees volunteered in a mobile kitchen serving free, nutritious meals to kids in need.
The company also sends scores of volunteers as often as twice a week to work in our National Distribution Center, located in Omaha just 10 minutes down the road from its worldwide headquarters. Millions of our product donations arrive annually by semi-truck to this facility, where they are sorted and packed into thousands of cartons and hundreds of pallets. These are then shipped to nonprofits that request items from our online catalog or into disaster zones like hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico to help communities recover and rebuild.
The logistical wonders of our warehouse in Omaha allow us to be much more efficient with the distribution of donations, which ultimately means we’re maximizing the social impact of those goods. It’s a big job, to say the least, and we wouldn’t be able to accomplish quite as much without the help of our passionate volunteers.
Since October 2018, 136 Mutual of Omaha employees have racked up 284 hours of volunteer time at our distribution center. That represents more than a full week’s worth of work from our five-person temp staff working full-time — an enormously helpful amount of assistance when you consider the size of our staff and the massive number of goods that need to be sorted each day.
The volunteers help us by doing the initial sort of the products, then packing them into cartons and getting them ready for final shipment. That might entail inspecting donated items, labeling and building boxes, and even learning to use a pallet jack and prepping entire pallets for shipment.
“Our volunteers allow us to push donations through production faster and move on to the next shipment,” said Lynne Haas, Manager of Operations and Production at our National Distribution Center. “This ultimately allows Good360 to offer a greater variety of items to our charities, as well as push savings directly down to them by reducing labor costs. We see our volunteers as an extension of our staff — they’re so crucial to what we do.”
For its part, Mutual of Omaha sees a host of benefits from volunteerism, including building teamwork, keeping employees engaged, and helping local communities.
Ultimately, said Jay Warren-Teamer, Community Affairs Coordinator at Mutual of Omaha, “it’s just the right thing to do.”
“Doing this good work is good for business,” she added. “We know that younger generations are especially interested in working for socially responsible companies. We see volunteering as a way to attract and retain employees. But it’s not the reason we do it. We do it because we have a very caring workforce. People are very generous here. We care about this community. This is a great way to engage our people and make them feel proud to work for our company.”
Kailyn Watson, Strategic and Corporate Communications Manager at Mutual of Omaha, volunteered with her colleagues in our warehouse for some team-building fun.
“I think everyone really enjoyed it,” Watson said. “The afternoon went by very fast. The staff made it fun. They also gave us some history about the organization to help us understand the impact that we were making. We all agreed that it would be a great volunteer experience to repeat in the future.”
By creating a culture of volunteerism and community engagement, Mutual of Omaha helps Good360 make good on its promise of social impact, while at the same time engaging its own employees to make their own impact on their local community. You might say it’s… mutual.
If you are interested in volunteering at our National Distribution Center, click here to learn more and request more information.