Corporate Beach Cleaners!

by Alana Bonzi
wifm_autumn09_low-75‘Engageable moments’ make great volunteers.

“In good times, employee engagement is the difference between being good and being great, and in bad tim es it’s the difference between surviving and not. In good times and bad, low engagement reduces performance and profit. And under the current circumstances, many companies can’t afford to let those drop,” — James K. Harter, Ph.D., Gallup’s chief scientist of workplace management and wellbeing.

Corporate volunteering to create “engageable moments” is a cost-effective way to strengthen employee-management links to attract and retain talent, experts agree.

wifm_autumn09_low-76According to Points of Light Foundation, a Washington-based NPO, the best ways to get staff to volunteer is to offer several options; garner top management support; make participation voluntary; and give high visibility (recognize volunteers).

Another way is to harness employees’ “intrinsic motivation.” Although volunteering implies doing for others, volunteers also want a personal experience, where they come out having learned, shared and done something useful.

Further, the need to strengthen and boost staff morale with activities that are meaningful on human, economic and environmental levels is stronger than ever.

Participants highly praise volunteer projects that also involve their families, which improves work-life balance and preserves quality time together.

The business benefits include team building, heightened employee commitment, and enhanced corporate image, while community and social benefits include improving the local environment and helping local organizations.

Corporate volunteer activities in Japan are often in the Kanto area, primarily Tokyo, but the potential in neighboring suburban areas is under exploited. Opportunities, however, to engage with employees, their families, and communities an hour or so from Tokyo do exist.

The Fujisawa Beach Cleaning Project, led by Soleil Provence, a French language and culture school in Fujisawa Shonan, to connect the expat and local communities involves cleaning Kugenuma Beach, one of the most accessible seaside spots near Tokyo.

After the hard work—inspired by Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Campaign, along with NPOs the Japan Environment Action Network and Kanagawa Coastal Environment Foundation— expats and locals get to know each other at a sociable buffet.

Debris is recorded for a national survey on the state of Japan’s beaches and an international report on the state of the world’s beaches.

Fujisawa Beach Cleaning Project