In-house programs have helped increase the employee participation rate
By Melissa Proulx
When it comes to giving back, Stratham-based Timberland Company decided that the best approach for its employees was to give them more time than motivation.
The outdoor clothing and footwear company has made it easier to bring their good citizenship to work while also allowing groups of 10 to 20 employees at a time participate in monthly service opportunities. This program is not restricted to just one location, but a global program for employees at all of its locations throughout the world.
“In the U.S., 75 percent of our employees reported serving at least one day in 2013,” said Atlanta McIlwraith, senior manager of community engagement. “It’s a relatively new thing that we’ve started making it more convenient for people to serve.”
In-house programs include “Knit for Needs,” through which employees knit hats for premature babies, and others involve setting aside times for employees to write letters to troops and packing care kits for families with newly adopted pets or with children in the hospital. There’s also “Victory Gardens” that grow fresh flowers and vegetables in front of Timberland’s entrance that can be used by employees and donated to New Hampshire Food Banks.
McIlwraith says the values of programs like these not only are good for employee morale and community goodwill, but also allow for leadership development.
“There are lots of opportunities for employees to step up and lead different projects that are happening,” she said. “We give them skills that are going to ensure they excel as leaders (of the programs projects), and professionally as well.”
And by inviting people outside of the company to help out as well, McIlwraith says Timberland is able to “proactively engage” business partners.
“It’s one thing to talk about what you do over a business lunch or in a showroom,” she said. “We find that when people we do business with have an experience of our values or actions, they have a different idea about the brand.”
Timberland has done its fair share of helping out the environment as well.
In 2007, the company set a goal to reduce by 50 percent its greenhouse gas emissions and source clean, renewable energy for 30 percent of its fuel by 2015. On July 10, the company announced it had achieved its goal two years early – by 2013, it had reduced emissions by 53 percent and now gets 31 percent of its energy from renewable sources.
There’s another benefit to the company’s social and environmental initiatives, says McIlwraith.
“Millennials in the workforce are looking for meaning in their work and looking for employers who have a broader purpose,” she said. “I think it’s important to bring the values of life to work.”
The “Just One Thing” Campaign is an 18-month effort of New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility. Its purpose is to challenge businesses to consider incorporating a sustainability initiative into their operations. Companies can celebrate their achievements and inspire others by sharing their stories on the campaign’s webpage.
To submit your story or read others, visit nhbsr.org/jot.