How volunteering can bring employees together – A guest blog by Kevin Pratt, Marketing Executive, at Access Self Storage

Companies with multiple, locations and teams face numerous challenges. Difficulties keeping morale up, maintaining company culture and preventing employees from feeling dis-engaged, can be particularly pertinent – especially when those teams consist of just a handful of staff.

At Access, with over 50 stores nationwide, it is crucial for us to keep on top of employee engagement. We’ve definitely found that motivating and uniting these teams from a single central location can be tricky, but with ample skill, tact and consideration, it is perfectly possible to achieve a happy, fulfilled workforce.

One of the most successful companywide exercises that we have employed across our stores, is carrying out regular charity drives, in which teams compete against each other to collect the most donations, whether they’re Christmas presents or Easter eggs, all for a local cause.

Along the way, we’ve learnt that not only does this promote healthy competition between teams, helping people feel engaged, but it also provides a real boost to morale across the whole company, with the added bonus that local charities around the UK receive plenty of donations towards their cause – a win win situation for everyone involved.

Keep it fun (and productive)

Unifying different teams and creating a positive culture within a company is a challenge shared by many. With an ongoing and often hectic task list, alongside other ongoing projects, it can be hard for employees to see the benefits of taking on the extra responsibility of organising charity work.  Because of this, we realised early on that it was paramount that the work was fun – another dreary task would not motivate anyone. We’ve found that a great way of generating enthusiasm is to encourage colleagues to team up with each other, as well as with their customers, to work closely with their chosen charity. For the project to be a success it’s essential that everyone pulls together.

By bringing the charity activity into the day-to-day lives of the staff, they were able to develop stronger customer relationships giving them a way of connecting outside of the office environment. On top of this, with lots of willing and active partners on board, each campaign will gain more interest, awareness and therefore, most importantly, donations.

Charity starts at home

Being able to see the immediate benefits of your volunteer work for a local charity, rather than a national one, tends to lead to a greater sense of satisfaction. And this is no different for our charity campaigns. By allowing each store to choose their own charity, the entire project immediately feels more personal and authentic. Not only is everyone more committed to the cause, but it also forges a closer bond between teams and customers. One of our Birmingham stores chose to work with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and over time they built such a fantastic rapport between themselves and the hospital staff and patients, that the latter even ended up becoming customers!

Don’t shy away from the limelight

Everyone enjoys recognition for the work they’ve done, and our staff are no different. Journalists too always welcome a heart-warming story and so do our customers, so it’s great when the story gets picked up. Employees seeing all their hard work acknowledged in the local press creates a great sense of achievement. So, come next year, they are excited and enthusiastic for the next campaign.

As well as ensuring we feature in the local media, we make sure we share the team’s results and experiences on our blog and social media channels, as you can see in this post from our Easter campaign last year. Not only does this promote their efforts further but also provides a healthy dose of competitiveness. We often find that teams try to outdo their own previous donation records as well as those of the other teams.

Everyone’s a winner

By encouraging our teams to take up local charity ventures, we’ve realised that it’s possible to help build a motivated and enthusiastic workforce, whilst also giving to those that need it most – so everyone’s a winner.

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