2009 PR News CSR Award: Employee Volunteer Program


NorthShore University HealthSystem for Sharing Spirit Employee Volunteer Awards


“What’s in it for me?”
That is exactly what NorthShore University HealthSystem asked of their employees to advance the organization’s mission “to preserve and improve human life.” In order to engage the 8,000-plus employees around this philanthropic gesture, NorthShore’s community relations department created the “Sharing Spirit Awards,” a program to recognize employees for their extraordinary volunteer efforts beyond the walls of its three hospitals.

CALLING ALL VOLUNTEERS

NorthShore execs had a clear plan for the program: Employees would submit nominations that detailed their specific volunteer efforts, be they at a local or international level. Annually, 10 winners would receive a $500 donation on behalf of their volunteer organization, and they would be honored at a reception, during which time a synopsis of the volunteer’s work would be shared with the audience.

Logistically speaking, though, this plan had its challenges, which NorthShore University HealthSystem director of community relations Mark Schroeder identifies as “communicating the new program and call for applications to the entire organization, not just pockets.”

“Selecting winners was a challenge, as there were so many outstanding applications,” he says. “We also wanted to be sensitive to those applying, because though they may not have met the criteria for the award—improving and preserving human life—their volunteer work is still very much valued by the organization.”

A DIGITAL TOUCH
To overcome these challenges, the team leveraged their digital assets, including the organization’s internal publication Inside NorthShore and its intranet, “Pulse.” But it was important that the team didn’t lose sight of more intimate communications amongst all the digital outreach.

“We utilized our digital outlets such as the intranet and e-mail blasts,” Schroeder says. “But we also presented the award and a call for applications via in-person meetings with senior leadership so as to disseminate the information at department meetings or other scheduled meetings that take place between managers and their employees.”


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