April is National Volunteer Month

How National Volunteer Month Can Help For-Profit Companies

Author: Ann Echols
Volunteer Centre County, Executive Director

April is National Volunteer Month. What a great reason to promote over 85 local nonprofits in Centre County that need volunteers and donated goods! Centre County is fortunate to have such a wonderful composition of nonprofit organizations spanning different 17 categories of services. Rich in opportunities, these organizations seek volunteers to help them fulfill their services, as well as donated goods to keep their budgets affordable.

Encouraging employees to volunteer carries many benefits. It shows an interest in community health and well-being, bringing to light one’s intentions of making Centre County stronger for all. Volunteering can also offer community connections and visibility. Many skilled volunteers are in demand, and allowing employees to participate in helping a nonprofit by utilizing their specific skill set once a month for 4 hours or so can be huge in terms of adding meaningfulness to the employees’ experiences and also by adding the help needed by the nonprofit. Volunteer Time Off (VTO) is practiced by many Fortune 500 corporations. The change of venue and pace that volunteering offers may jump-start feeling invigorated and motivated as one practices their skills by using them in a similar but different capacity. More workers than ever before now want to work for companies that include a component of social responsibility or giving back.

Volunteering can create a more engaged and purpose-driven workforce. Allowing employees to share their skills with nonprofits by volunteering as a team can build morale and more cohesive teams. Working together to make a positive impact stimulates creativity, problem-solving, and the emotional feel-goods associated with having accomplished something that makes a direct difference in the lives of others. Regardless of the industry, allowing purpose-driven work via once-a-month volunteering can result in longer expected tenures, a greater interest in leadership positions, and higher work satisfaction levels. From a human resources perspective, this makes volunteering an ideal investment.

In addition, evidence of corporate social responsibility is attractive to many investors and customers, as well as to employees. Giving back is great for public relations. Spotlighting employees who volunteer, and their impact as a result of their efforts, gives a reason for a social media post or news article. This is a triple win because attention is given to the company, the nonprofit, and the employee. Investors and customers appreciate this type of social media as it shares a local story about people they may know and a cause they may support. It is “homey”, personal, and authentic. People like what’s unique. People like to see those they know uplifted.

Central Pennsylvania SCORE is a Volunteer Centre County Community Partner, and the SCORE website (https://www.score.org/resource/blog-post/14-ways-small-businesses-can-participate-volunteer-work) offers 14 ways that small businesses can participate in volunteer work. This website promotes volunteering by carrying out donation drives, as well as directly volunteering by completing a service activity for the nonprofit. Donation drives can encourage fun and healthy competition by having different work departments compete to collect, for example, the most CATA bus tokens, individually wrapped snacks, paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc. These items are in need by several Volunteer Centre County Community Partners (see: https://volunteercentrecounty.org/donations-needed) and they are relatively inexpensive and make for easy donation drives.

Or perhaps the for-profit corporation wishes to give back by doing what it does best, offering one of its products or services in a charity auction. Auctions, whether silent, online, or in person, are popular ways for local charities to fundraise. Gathering items, gift cards, service vouchers, and experiences (e.g., those offered on the AirB&B app) are valuable contributions to a charity’s auction. Such a donation can get the donor’s name into new markets and in front of other local donors and supporters who may not have heard of them yet. This is of course a form of advertising, and it comes under the category of doing good, so that’s a win-win! Greater Giving, a company that sells fundraising software, says that if the donor is physically present at the auction where the donor’s item is offered, the ability to network with other donors and supporters of the charity can bring added rewards. We are not talking about turning charity events into sales conferences. However, if the topic comes up, it doesn’t hurt to let people know of a product’s or service’s benefits and value while keeping the focus on the cause.

Lastly, think of how your company’s product or service may be used by the people that the nonprofit directly serves. Make the connection between what your for-profit firm does and the markets served by the nonprofit firms. Digital Marketing Institute (https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/blog/corporate-16-brands-doing-corporate-social-responsibility-successfully) cites a recent poll (https://nypost.com/2023/08/22/most-gen-z-millennials-base-purchases-on-brands-mission-poll/) finding that young Americans prefer brands held to a higher standard: 80 percent are likely to base their purchases on a brand’s mission or purpose, while 74 percent would boycott brands for crossing an ethical line and going against their personal values. So, says the Digital Marketing Institute, “Companies need to share how they are trying to make a positive impact on the world, so the public can see their pro-social initiatives. Showcasing efforts is key so it’s important to learn how to market to millennials because these efforts will sway the choices they make as consumers.”

Clearly, National Volunteer Month is not just for nonprofits. In a way, it is more about for-profits. For-profit firms hone employee skill sets that result in valuable volunteer hours, create valuable products and services that directly benefit those served in addition to charity fundraising, and seek corporate social responsibility strategies that offer benefits sought especially by the new workforce and younger customers. Learn more about Centre County’s nonprofit community this month and strategize how your company can create a win-win!

Mount Nittany Health Celebrates January 2024 Employee of the Month, Kristina Sanders, CNA

State College, Pa. –  Kristina Sanders, CNA, Progressive Care Unit, is a much valued part of the Mount Nittany Health family. Her colleagues describe her as a very hard worker and a true asset to the patients she serves.

Kristina epitomizes all of Mount Nittany Health’s values of caring, excellence, integrity, respect, teamwork, and stewardship. For the Employee of the Month Honor, she is being recognized for her caring demeanor; always being kind, compassionate, and thoughtful to everyone.

Her nominator said, “Kristina is an absolute MVP when it comes to all areas of her job responsibilities and beyond. She is highly dependable and accountable, and she always demonstrates excellent time management skills. Her demeanor is always professional and kind, and her compassion shines through in a very authentic way. Kristina remains calm and collected during very busy and stressful times. Her communication ensures accurate and safe patient care. It is always a delight to see that she will be the CNA on my unit during my shift.”

Kristina is from State College and has served the community as part of Mount Nittany Health’s team for four years. She was honored to be named Employee of the Month.

I would not have been nominated without the constant support and encouragement from those who work in my unit,” said Kristina. “Each staff member plays an important role, and works together to serve the patients and community. I truly feel that I perform my best because of my incredible team. I am so appreciative of the many wonderful nurses and nursing assistants I have worked with over the past four years. Their leadership and friendship will have a lasting impact on me.”

When Kristina isn’t busy serving the community, she enjoys reading and journaling. She also loves spending time with her sweet cat, Cricket.

With 2,400 amazing employees, serving 19 locations throughout the Centre region, being selected as Employee of the Month is an incredible honor!  Kristina, thank you for all you do, and for contributing to our mission of “Healthier people, stronger community.”

Leadership Impact: Navigating Talent Turnover and Fostering a Thriving Company Culture

Talent turnover isn’t simply about losing one person. It’s about losing a significant amount of knowledge and potential. In a study on workplace satisfaction, 75% of workers reported that their immediate boss was the most stressful part of their job. And that stress has a cost. While your best workers may be attracted to the company mission, a big reason they often leave is the manager. 

The Financial Impact of Talent Turnover

Unfortunately, the cost of one person leaving can be substantial. According to Gallup research, replacing an employee can cost up to one half to double their salary. Plus, when one person leaves, it can trigger a domino effect leading to more departures. When multiple employees leave, studies have found a problem manager is often to blame and, in addition to the lost talent, employee performance drops across the board. From profit margin to customer service, turnover weakens a company’s brand and bottom line. 

The Silent Killer: Turnover’s Effect on Morale & Company Culture 

It’s common for employees to build relationships with their co-workers. When one person leaves, employee morale takes a hit. Instead of seeing their friend at work, an employee might need to cover that person’s work until someone new is hired. Losing a professional relationship and taking on more work compounds the negative effects on staff. And if management contributed to the voluntary exit, then that worker may be the next to give notice.

Unsurprisingly, negative experiences stick around, disrupting the harmony within the company. If the leadership isn’t effective, it can turn the workplace from a place where ideas thrive into an environment where everyone treads carefully. This downward spiral not only hurts productivity it also affects the happy workplace culture business owners want. 

The Good News: Managers Are Also Part of the Solution

Leadership isn’t instinctive; it’s a skill that needs to be developed. The same research that found that turnover negatively affected workplace performance also found that good leadership could minimize these effects. When business owners invest in training their leaders, managers gain the necessary people and performance skills that improve work culture. 

Management Training

Investment can take many forms, such as leadership retreats, one-on-one coaching sessions, or pairing managers with mentors within the company. The goal is to cultivate a group of bosses who truly understand their teams. According to Wharton Business School, professional development empowers leaders with new skills and knowledge, which in turn provides a better skilled workforce, increases workplace satisfaction, and decreases turnover. 

Recognizing When It’s Not Working

Sometimes, a leader and their position just don’t fit. Making difficult decisions about leadership is hard but necessary. Pay attention to more turnover from the same department, which will often point you in the direction of the problem. Delaying could mean your business is stuck instead of moving forward. 

The Bottom Line

Leaders often mention their teams when discussing business success, but managers are often left to navigate alone. The reality is that managers are the stabilizing force that keeps the team in good shape.

If your business has been experiencing more turnover, experts advise looking beyond more money or benefits. Look closely at your team culture, especially at those in leadership positions. Often, that’s where you’ll find the problems. And that’s where you can fix them—with effective leadership.

Invest in your management relationships. In business, retention and progress go hand in hand. You’ve worked hard to build your business. Don’t let a misstep from the top send your best employees looking for new opportunities. 

The Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County is a private non-profit organization that aims to support the growth and development of local businesses and our regional economy. We strive to create content that not only educates but also fosters a sense of connection and collaboration among our readers. Join us as we explore topics such as economic development, networking opportunities, upcoming events, and success stories from our vibrant community. Our resources provide insights, advice, and news that are relevant to business owners, entrepreneurs, and community members alike. The Chamber has been granted license to publish this content provided by Chamber Today, a service of ChamberThink Strategies LLC. 

Top In-Demand Skills in 2024

What job skills will be crucial to navigate the challenges of 2024? Bernard Marr, a best-selling author, esteemed futurist, and Forbes contributor, asserts that possessing the right skills within your team is critical for employers. He highlights the importance of skills that adapt to the ever-evolving demands of our time, emphasizing their value in staying relevant and successful.

The AI Challenge & Opportunity 

The rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) brings both significant challenges and exciting opportunities for businesses of all kinds. On one side, incorporating AI into business operations requires substantial investments in technology and training, while also navigating complex ethical and privacy considerations. On the flip side, AI unlocks incredible potential for innovation, empowering businesses to analyze vast datasets for informed decision-making, automate daily tasks for greater efficiency, and personalize customer experiences on a large scale. Thus, while AI presents challenges that need careful handling, its capabilities pave the way for reshaping business practices and reaching new heights of success.

Project Management in the Age of Technology

In the era of AI, project management becomes a key skill, holding things together to ensure tech works well for businesses. Good project managers not only launch AI solutions but also get the human-tech connection. They play a vital role in making AI tools boost human interactions, keeping tech and human skills in sync at work. Leading teams, strategy execution, and clear communication are crucial as companies blend AI without losing the human touch that sparks innovation, creativity, and client satisfaction.

Communication Remains A Top Skill 

In today’s rapidly changing economy, communication skills are becoming increasingly vital for employees in all industries. As AI technologies integrate and the need for collaborative and adaptive work settings grows, the importance of effective communication rises. Clear and concise communication not only improves team dynamics and technology integration but also bridges gaps between diverse working groups and global clients. Moreover, with remote work and digital platforms prevailing, the demand for strong virtual communication skills is more critical than ever, emphasizing adaptability and emotional intelligence for productivity and innovation.

Social IQ is a Company Asset 

Networking is a crucial business skill that goes beyond industries and job roles. It lays the groundwork for successful careers and companies, letting professionals forge relationships that open doors to career growth and a vast pool of resources and knowledge. Effective networking fosters collaboration and innovation by facilitating idea exchange, mentorship, and staying updated on industry trends. Those skilled in networking often navigate negotiations, influence decisions, and build trust with ease among colleagues and clients, highlighting its importance in the modern business landscape.

Cybersecurity for Small Business 

For small businesses, cybersecurity is crucial, especially in today’s digital age. Smaller enterprises, often seen as prime targets by cybercriminals, must focus on safeguarding their digital assets to protect their reputation, finances, and customer trust. Outsourcing cybersecurity services can be a smart choice, granting access to expert knowledge, advanced tech, and continuous monitoring. By partnering with cybersecurity professionals, small businesses can bolster their defenses while staying focused on growth, turning cybersecurity challenges into opportunities to strengthen their market position.

The Takeaway 

As we move forward into an increasingly digital era, the blend of technology and essential human skills is becoming the foundation of thriving in the modern workplace. Skills such as effective communication, project management, and a robust social IQ, coupled with a comprehensive understanding of AI and cybersecurity, are becoming indispensable assets for individuals and businesses alike. By fostering these skills, both employers and job seekers can compete and excel in a dynamic job market that values innovation, adaptability, and human-centric technology integration.

Mount Nittany Medical Center has been named one of the World’s Best Hospitals by Newsweek

State College, Pa. – Mount Nittany Health is proud to announce that for the fourth year in a row the Mount Nittany Medical Center has been named one of the World’s Best Hospitals by Newsweek. Created in 2019, the ‘World’s Best Hospitals’ series includes data on over 2,400 hospitals across 39 countries.

Mount Nittany Medical Center is one of 26 hospitals in Pennsylvania to rank in the top 400 hospitals nationwide.

“It’s an honor to once again receive the prestigious recognition as one of the World’s Best Hospitals,” said Kathleen Rhine, President and CEO, Mount Nittany Health. “I want to thank the hardworking Mount Nittany Health team, who truly go above and beyond to provide high-quality, compassionate care each and every day. The whole team should be proud that their dedication and commitment make Mount Nittany Medical Center one of the world’s best!”

According to Newsweek, “With so much at stake for individuals and institutions, reliable data is key. The Newsweek-Statista rankings provide crucial insights for patients, families and health care executives.”

Each of the ‘World’s Best Hospitals’ scores is based on an online survey of more than 85,000 medical experts and public data from post-hospitalization patient surveys on their general satisfaction. The score also considers metrics on things like hygiene and patient/doctor ratio as well as a Statista survey on whether hospitals use Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs), which are standardized questionnaires completed by patients to assess their experience and results.

Since 1902, Mount Nittany Health has grown to serve more than 400,000 members of the community, and has more than 220 providers and 30 medical specialties serving six counties.

In addition to being named a “World’s Best Hospital” by Newsweek in 2021, 2022, and 2023, and “America’s Best Maternity Hospital” in 2023, Mount Nittany Medical Center earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for quality care and patient safety and a 5-Star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.