In a bid to resolve one of the world’s biggest medical problem while helping employees get inspired and remain engaged to their jobs, IBM a giant global technology company known for its innovative solutions has come up with a number of programs that match their employees with volunteer projects around the world.
In August 2016, IBM decided to be part of the global solution in combating the cancer menace.
The tech giant teamed up with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), to launch the first of an emerging set of IBM Health Corps grants to tackle just these kind of thorny, multi-variable medical problems.
Instead of conforming to the traditional help of donating money, IBM opted for something more personal and totally different. It offered her employees who would take paid time-off to work pro bono in identified social good projects that could change the world.
So far the success of the projects is quite inspiring including feats like making cancer treatments more readily available in sub-Saharan Africa, helping programmers in Senegal learn business and technical skills, improving ambulance response times in Memphis and creating a renewable energy grid in Taiwan.
In this approach, IBM identifies a need, often in coordination with the partner organizations or charities, then selects a corporate dream team of about half-dozen to a dozen employees from across the company.
The dream team collaborates remotely for a few months, then comes together for a few weeks to test their proposed solution in real life.
The employees are paid for the time they spend away from the office volunteering.
Dream team challenge
Making it to the dream team is an extremely competitive internal process.
Any employee who has worked with the company for at least two years can apply for this community service program.
The applicants are subjected to a series of performance analysis and interviews to determine if their skillset and attitude is a fit for a specific mission.
The applicants can also state which part of the world they would prefer to conduct their community work project although IBM makes the final call.
Candidates who have a demonstrated interest in community service work previously have an advantage in the process
After all the reviews are done, only 10% of the applicants are picked to participate in any given project.
The successful lots have demonstrated great value to the company by bringing back new perspectives with them and sharing skills that can help each other in their daily jobs.
According to an IBM survey, 80% of managers say special mission veterans come back more positive and motivated with 80% of the deployed employees expressing their willingness to be lifelong staff of IBM.
Through this impact program, IBM realizes a number of positives: it creates an environment that millennials appreciate, builds long lasting and commercially viable relationships and experiences with potential clients, drives social impact and increases its employee engagement besides bringing a little bit of fun back to the workplace.
The Health Corps projects is just but the latest of a number of other social programs run by IBM through its employees. Others include efforts to map and reduce mosquito-related diseases like dengue fever and Zika in Panama and Taiwan, and work alongside Duke to plot and fix vexing community health issues in the south eastern U.S.
In all this projects, IBM’s goal and design is to develop pro bono swat teams of coders, engineers, and business development managers for specialized problems and loan them out to go and change the world.
IBM has already set the pace for other global corporates to emulate in realising their social impact objectives.