Supporting local communities does not necessarily mean a direct financial investment. Giving time to a social cause can be equally valuable.
Employee volunteering was introduced as a new form of support under the Biofore Share and Care Programme in 2018. UPMers can use up to eight of their working hours each year to volunteer for locally selected charitable causes. At first, the opportunity for volunteering is offered to salaried employees.
“The idea of employee volunteering is to support social causes in local communities where we operate, and to provide employees with new experiences and possibilities to find inspiration and motivation. Employee volunteering is also known to increase employee engagement and, at its best, also a team’s sense of solidarity,” says Kaisa Vainikka, local employee volunteering coordinator and the coordinator of the whole Biofore Share and Care programme at UPM.
The concept of volunteering and the first pilot causes were introduced to Biofore House employees in Helsinki in autumn 2018.
In Helsinki, the local causes include various activities in co-operation with the new Helsinki Central Library Oodi and the Helsinki Lifeboat Association, for example. The first response among UPMers has been very positive.
“My task as a local volunteer coordinator is to find the appropriate causes that are aligned with the four Biofore Share and Care focus areas: Reading and learning, Responsible water use, Engaging with communities and Boosting bioinnovations. Once causes are selected — normally for one year at a time — they are introduced to UPMers and included in a shared portal where we manage information related to sponsorships, donations and employee volunteering”, Kaisa explains.
Vainikka adds that the concept is still at an early stage and will develop over time. The first step in 2019 is to train the local volunteer coordinators to manage the process and use the portal. The variety of volunteering causes is likely to expand as the concept becomes more familiar, and gradually more and more UPM sites will take on this opportunity.”
UPM Raflatac in Poland is one of the early adopters of the concept of employee volunteering. Their long-standing co-operation with WWF Poland on the Rivers for Life project continues in 2019 with the River Guardians programme. The programme encourages ordinary citizens to become active stewards to protect and clean 150,000 kilometres of river banks in Poland. UPM Raflatac’s volunteers will join this group of guardians.
Vainikka emphasises that volunteering does not promote UPM’s business agenda. It is completely voluntary and based on each UPMer’s own desire to be involved.
Text: Petra Niemi