In February 2012, Interserve Construction Limited launched the Interserve Employee Foundation with the aim of improving the quality of life and chances in the communities in which it operates through the skills, capabilities, resources and enthusiasm of its employees. Since then it has been involved in projects all over the world which have contributed to achieving that aim.
It all began at the annual Interserve Conference in 2010 when the CEO charged delegates with determining the various attributes required of its leadership team to meet and overcome forthcoming challenges.
A leadership programme was put together to ensure the development of these attributes and, as part of its first wave, senior executives across the organisation were tasked with developing an innovative initiative which would engage staff as well as deliver benefits to local communities.
Lasting impact and legacy
The initial proposal was to host an isolated charity event, but on reflection it was felt that it would be more effective to deliver something which had a lasting impact and legacy. The result was the creation of the Interserve Employee Foundation.
Following a period of careful planning and administrative arrangements, it was formally launched throughout the Interserve Group in February 2012 and now enables all employees internationally (around 26,000) the opportunity to contribute to their local community.
Driving employee engagement
The Foundation provides a vehicle for Interserve employees to contribute their time and skills to projects and initiatives that are local to them and will have a positive impact on their community. It enables them to donate money to charities through their payroll, contribute a day of their time (paid for by Interserve) to contribute to a local community project or charity, or take part in larger scale charity projects. The outcomes include increased contributions to local charities, greater community involvement and an increase in employee engagement.
Progress on the Foundation’s activities is communicated internally through channels such as the group-wide intranet IRIS, corporate magazine Focus and the corporate website and this helps to maintain momentum and encourage participation. The Foundation also uses external publicity to give its activities broader exposure and let communities know what is taking place.
Interserve has also trained a number of regional employee ambassadors to represent the Foundation in each of the Interserve Group Companies. The ambassadors are the local face of the Foundation and their role is to ensure that it is driven from the bottom up and delivers exceptional results through even greater employee engagement.
Community projects, fundraising and grants
As one of its first community projects, the Foundation sent a team to construct an early learning centre in Chennai, India. The majority of tools and materials were donated by local suppliers and the team also collected a range of learning materials and books to equip the school. In Oxford, senior employees sorted clothes for charity shops run by children’s hospice Helen House. They also assisted with furniture restoration, a time-consuming new project that brings in much-needed income.
The Foundation has benefited from a range of fundraising events from a home-baked cake sale in London that raised £78.50, to a Pancake Day in Twyford that raised over £100. In Australia, Interserve’s equipment services company RMD Kwikform raised A$730 by holding a ‘Day Off’ raffle, while staff competing in the 2012 Dubai Marathon raised US$1,666.
The Foundation has also awarded grants to a number of projects including Nineveh Ridge Care Farm in Worcestershire, Kidz Aware in Wakefield and Grangetown Further Learning Crèche in Cardiff. Its latest project is the Big Book Drop to support Literacy for Life. In the UK it has collected over 50,000 books which will now be sent to schools in the Philippines, South Africa, India and Chile.
The breadth and range of projects to date demonstrates that the Foundation’s focus is not just on the big stories but on the small ones too, and that any endeavour that provides a positive contribution to its community is welcome.
Against this background, feedback from Interserve’s annual employee perception surveys demonstrates a strong appetite for continuing to support charitable initiatives. The Foundation is keen to harness and build on this enthusiasm to ensure that it keeps benefitting Interserve, its employees and its local communities.