The transformative power of volunteerism and corporate social responsibility can be especially impactful when a company harnesses its collective effort to serve its local community. A prime example of the impact of corporate volunteering is when our Malta-based Alludo employees used one of their dedicated corporate volunteer days and came together to donate their time and expertise to assist LOOP, a local community organization.

A hub of community activity: LOOP

Located in Balzan, LOOP is a remarkable initiative involved in several community projects that aim to address various social needs. The site encompasses a new shelter for 14 homeless individuals, an evening soup kitchen, and a future second-hand shop in Valletta. The challenges these projects face underscore the urgent need for corporate volunteering efforts.

Service in action: Alludo’s day at LOOP

Embracing our culture of giving,  27 Alludo employees (aka Alludians) arrived at LOOP, ready to contribute meaningfully and make an impact through corporate volunteering. They engaged in several tasks directly impacting the progress of LOOP’s projects:

  1. Furniture clearance: In order to create a safe and welcoming environment, our Alludians cleared out old and broken furniture from the premises. This created more usable space and ensured all areas could be outfitted with functional furnishings.

  2. Organizing resources: The team also cleared out redundant and dysfunctional equipment, helping LOOP streamline its resources and ensure smooth project operations.

  3. Deep cleaning: Post-refurbishment, LOOP’s Emergency Shelter needed thorough cleaning. The Alludians stepped up, deep cleaning the shelter, and creating a welcoming and clean environment for its residents.

  4. Aesthetic improvements: The volunteers refreshed the complex by sanding and painting apertures, enhancing the overall aesthetics and creating a more pleasant atmosphere.

  5. Infrastructure maintenance: Recognizing the need for maintaining infrastructure, the Alludo team carried out basic masonry work, ensuring the complex’s long-term sustainability.

The impact of collective volunteering efforts

Alludo employees showcased the power of collective effort by not only donating their time and effort but also making a significant monetary contribution. The company donated 1000 euros, and the employees rallied together to collect an additional 360 euros amongst themselves.

Additionally, Alludo employees made a conscientious choice to support Il-Kċina ta Marta, a kitchen that provides solidarity meals for those in need, by purchasing their lunch from there. It was a genuine testament to their commitment to supporting local causes.

Taking stock: The power of corporate volunteering

Alludo’s day of service at LOOP illustrates the significant impact corporate volunteerism can have in shaping and supporting local communities. By leveraging their resources and manpower, businesses can contribute significantly to the betterment of society. In essence, Alludo’s initiative serves as a reminder of how we can all harness the power of corporate social responsibility to make a positive, lasting impact.

In case you missed it, January 24th was National Compliment Day in the United States, Canada, and many other countries. We love the idea that there’s a whole day dedicated to telling other people how awesome they are, and it inspired a recent internal Brand Battle, #ComplimentACoworker. The employee recognition challenge was simple:  Compliment a coworker who demonstrates the company’s brand values, such as authenticity, grit, and accountability. The challenge ran for several weeks leading up to February 24th, and our Alludians shared their compliments on social media and a dedicated Brand Battle Teams channel.

The employee recognition challenge was a huge success, with compliments pouring in from across the company. From product marketing specialists to financial planning managers, Alludians recognized their colleagues for their hard work and dedication to the company’s brand values. Some of the standout compliments included:

  • Product Marketing Specialist Shahd Bekhit complimented Product Marketing Manager Sara Macdonald for embodying ACCOUNTABILITY. “She rolls up her sleeves every day and pitches in on whatever needs to be done,” said Shahd’s compliment. She shows up with solutions, not excuses, when met with a tough challenge.”
  • Jon Barger complimented his fellow Financial Planning & Analysis Manager Alexander McRae “for showing true GRIT,” adding “Keep on keeping on—can’t do this without you buddy.”
  • Internal Comms Manager Annie Norgaard shouted out Reed Younger, Internal and Corporate Communications Specialist, for his CURIOSITY. “Asking questions and always wanting to learn more, his enthusiasm and ‘learn-as-you-go’ mentality is an awesome quality to have,” says Annie, calling him “super inspiring.”
  • Localization Engineer Darrell McKay complimented Quality Assurance Specialist Sharon Potts “for being unapologetically AUTHENTIC. “She brings her whole self to work every day,” says Darrell, and Sharon’s “dedication to ensuring the products we work on are at their best, inspires me every day!”
  • Becca Chambers, SVP of Global Communications, complimented PR Manager Ashley Ruess for her unapologetic AUTHENTICITY. “Ashley is a shining star, bringing intelligence, a flair for creativity, and outside-the-box thinking,” Becca’s compliment read. “She’s authentically Ashley, and the more we get to see of that, the more she shines. Thanks for being awesome, Ashley!”

Each compliment meant a chance at winning some sweet Alludo swag, but based on the reactions in the Brand Battle Teams Channel, everyone’s already feeling the reward of a little extra appreciation.

Alludo’s employee recognition challenge is just one of the many ways the company is building a culture of gratitude and appreciation. Through its “AlluDough” program, employees can also give each other points that can be redeemed for gifts and swag. These programs help foster a positive work environment where employees feel valued and recognized for their contributions to the company’s success.

Thanks to everyone who participated, and thank YOU for all you do!

“The best idea ever.”

That’s Beata Stach’s succinct review of Alludo’s recent decision to add four wellness days to the existing PTO package. The first wellness day took place on Friday, February 17th. Employees are encouraged to spend the days in whatever way fuels their own sense of wellbeing.

Mountain yoga

Like many other Alludians, Beata shared her experience on an internal Teams chat, and was also kind enough to share more details with us. Beata spent the day skiing, or as she calls it, “mountain yoga.”

“It was a perfect day,” she says. “It felt guilt-free, and for the first time in months I disconnected from technology. The freedom of breathing the mountain air, uninterrupted by emails, texts, and phone calls, is priceless.”

Ottawa-based Beata not only took time for herself, but took advantage of the extra time to pay it forward for others. Beata volunteers with the local ski racing club on weekends, and she says that having a wellness day prior to the long weekend (it landed on President’s Day weekend) was a great way to add one more day to help out with the club. She was able to be part of the club’s downhill racecourse preparation team. “Having the wellness day aligned with the long weekend allowed for a mini-holiday, which was a brilliant and well-thought-out idea,” Beata says.

If there’s still snow on the ground for the next wellness day, Beata will “try to repeat this magnificent day again.”

Beata isn’t the only one who headed to the mountains for wellness day.

Climbing to the summit

Austin, Texas-based Jaime Becker took her wellness day to new heights, climbing to the highest point in Europe with her husband. With a little help from a cable car and a cogwheel train (and a lot of human power), Jaime and her husband summitted Switzerland’s Jungfraujoch. The extended weekend—and a lot of persistence—made this achievement possible. Jaime shared a beaming summit photo on the company’s Team chat.

Extended volunteer time

Wellness day was a truly global experience for Jaime, and for the global Alludo workforce. Malta-based Daniel Catania is already a big fan of Alludo’s dedicated volunteer days, and his version of wellness was to extend those volunteer days. He organized a party for his troop of Scouts, themed with the Carnival holiday that aligned with the wellness day.

“As a volunteer, I’m used to being on the go and never taking a break,” says Daniel. “Having a wellness day where I can focus on something that I enjoy doing was truly refreshing. It helped me to recharge and refocus my energy, which had a positive effect on my mental health and overall wellbeing.”

Prioritizing wellness

One thing we were curious about: since Alludo advocates for an overall flexible schedule, enabling employees to work when, where, and how it works best for them, was there a difference between knowing that they could technically go for a walk or get a massage any time they want, and knowing that they had a dedicated wellness day where they were supposed to take time off for wellness?

The answer was a resounding yes, there is a difference. “Knowing I had a wellness day coming up made a difference in my whole week, and it reminded me to take a break from my routine and prioritize self-care. When I’m busy, it’s easy to push self-care to the side, but having a dedicated wellness day made it a priority.”

Daniel acknowledges that volunteering with a Scout troop “might not seem like a typical relaxation activity,” but that for him, it is. He was also able to manage his workload leading up to the wellness day so that he could truly disconnect and be present with his volunteerism.

Daniel’s “atypical” version of wellness illustrates the whole point perfectly. Wellness looks different for everyone, and that’s why Alludo doesn’t dictate what people should do for their wellness days. We heard a huge range of stories, including volunteering, visiting family, indulging at a spa, spending time outdoors, or simply doing nothing—and loving every minute.

Beata says she shared the concept of wellness days with a few friends, and “they were all so impressed that we may have a few new CVs coming in soon!” As she says, “When others are being mandated to go back to the office and work extended hours, Alludo offers flexibility, balance, and celebration of freedom. I’m proud to be an Alludian.”

I recently commented in a piece that ran in Fast Company, called 16 ways leaders can set achievable expectations for their team to grow. The goal: to inspire individuals, motivate teamwork, and achieve better outcomes. 

For the article, my input centered on company culture. It’s something I care deeply about, and something that I’ve put a lot of thought and effort into throughout my evolution as a leader. I wanted to share those thoughts here and expand on them. As I said to Fast Company, 

Yes, managers should clearly communicate their expectations for every role and project. But to drive great results across the board, your expectations must truly be part of your company’s culture and DNA. Company culture is how people make decisions when you’re not in the room. With a solid culture, great decision making becomes instinctual because it’s based on what you value and reward every day.  

That line—culture is how people make decisions when you’re not in the room—is a frequent saying of mine. If there’s a major disconnect in the vibe and decision-making when a leader is in the room versus when they’re not in the room, that leader has a problem. That company has a problem. Aligning these two things starts with authenticity and transparency. It also involves a great deal of trust. A strong, positive, company culture can never stem from micromanagement or fear.  

Focus and clarity 

The fostering of company culture feeds into something I’ve been calling “Management by Haiku.” It’s the idea that your mission, purpose, and values must be able to be articulated in a clear, succinct fashion. A haiku is only seventeen syllables, but those seventeen syllables have to count. When you pare your mission, purpose, and values down to the core—removing everything that’s superfluous—it’s much easier to generate alignment. Everyone knows where they’re going. Everyone knows what to expect from you. There’s not a 600-page handbook to digest. It’s simple, straightforward, and undeniable. 

Move faster, together 

It doesn’t have to literally be seventeen syllables, but sharp focus is critical. When you manage by haiku, everyone in the company—whether you’re in the room or not—can hold every decision up to that clear purpose.  

Does it fit? If so, proceed.  

If not, do away with it.  

This clarity and alignment fosters faster decision-making and innovation. It codifies expectations into your company DNA. It’s like having bumpers on a bowling lane. If you know exactly where the guardrails are, you can feel safe to aim for a strike. 

Psychological safety 

I use that word “safe” intentionally. Another part of creating a strong company culture is promoting a sense of psychological safety. Alignment isn’t the same thing as homogeneity. Strong cultures are built on the diverse ideas, perspectives, and backgrounds of everyone in the room. People need to feel safe to bring their whole selves to work, to take risks, to fail, to challenge upward, and to keep trying. 

How do leaders make this happen? Reward risks. Reward failure. Reward innovation. Walk the walk by celebrating risks and embracing failure for yourself.  

Invite challenges—yes, even to your “haiku.” If the haiku doesn’t stand up to challenges, that means it can be better. 

It bears repeating: to drive great results across the board, infuse expectations into your company culture. Keep it simple. Make it authentic. Keep listening. 

Each year, Alludo gives employees a number of days off for volunteering. The company doesn’t tell people what cause they should support or how they should spend that time, and that’s what makes it so awesome. People get to reflect their values and leverage their skills in myriad ways.

We loved seeing the stories and photos pour in of employees’ volunteer time. For some people, this was an opportunity they hadn’t had before, and they embraced it. Others volunteer regularly, and Alludo’s program is a chance to spend work hours giving back.

Many of the stories touched our hearts and gave us inspiration.  Here are a couple of highlights:

Meet Douglas

Douglas King works in professional services at Alludo, and has been doing volunteer work for more than two decades. He says that in most volunteer jobs, you go out and help people. “But in ours, we go out and really hope people don’t need our help! But if they do, we’re there 100%.” Why does Douglas hope he’s not needed? Because he volunteers for St. John’s Ambulance (SJA) Canada, an organization with a long history both in Canada and internationally. When there’s a crisis, Douglas and his team show up.

Douglas has volunteered with SJA Federal District (Ottawa Ontario Canada) since before he started with Alludo, holding several roles in the organization over the years, while always performing first aid/medical first response.

I’ve seen and done a lot that I’d never have done without SJA. I’ve met several Governor Generals of Canada. I was backstage for the Tragically Hip. I’ve ridden in an Armored Personnel Carrier. I’ve walked 20km in one day on shift. I’ve had my patients taken away by helicopter…. the list goes on. 

                                                                                                        -Douglas King

For Douglas and his team, this is no casual volunteer gig. The standard of training is at the level of a firefighter: Medical First Responder with Basic Life Support CPR, as well as some mental health training.

“We also have a therapy dog unit here in Ottawa, which is a whole other level of awesome!” says Douglas. He used his first Alludo volunteer day to help provide medical coverage for Prince Charles’s visit to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stables.

Douglas has received several awards through SJA and was inducted into the prestigious Order of St. John as a serving member in 2018.

Meet Birgit

Birgit Burkard is an EMEA Order Management Operations Specialist at Alludo. Since 2019, Birgit has used her photography talents for perhaps the most meaningful gift imaginable. She volunteers with Dein Sternenkind Stiftung (Your Angel Baby), an organization that supports families who have lost their babies or know they won’t survive. “We often take the first and, sadly, last photos of the baby,” says Birgit. Dein Sternenkind Stiftung has 750 volunteer photographers across Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

When Birgit was approached to become a volunteer photographer for the organization, she says she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to do it because of the emotions involved in the subject. Today, she’s so glad she joined. “You feel a special atmosphere,” she says of these photography sessions. “It is not only sad, but also fully loaded with love and trust.”

Parents invite you to their emotional and private world and I am very thankful that they share this with me, that they trust me. I am the one that can ensure they don’t lose the memory by just taking photos. Isn’t that simple? It won’t cost me a lot, but I can do so much for the family.

                                                                                           -Birgit Burkard

Birgit recalls a particular photography session where the baby, Cedric, was supposed to be born on Birgit’s birthday. The family found out in advance that Cedric wouldn’t survive, and Birgit came to do a session with the family while Cedric was in his mother’s belly. He was later born sleeping on Birgit’s mother’s birthday, and she was able to visit the family again. “It was kind of a miracle; we have so many connections,” Birgit said. “It looked like Cedric picked me to get to know his family.” They’re still in touch, and now have a “rainbow baby.”

In addition to photography sessions, Birgit volunteers to edit and retouch photos sent over by parents or hospitals, “to create a nicer version” of whatever pictures they’d been able to take. “I am very happy and thankful that Alludo provides these volunteer days, so I can be available to step in if I am needed urgently,” says Birgit. Of course, many of her sessions aren’t planned in advance and are requested via an alarm on an app. Birgit relishes knowing that she can say yes and use volunteer time for it if needed. “The families are thankful for Alludo, too.”

Birgit and Douglas have very different volunteer roles, but they share a commonality: they’re willing to step in during people’s most difficult moments, in the middle of a crisis, and be a force for calm and support. It takes an incredible caliber of character to step up like that, and we’re proud to have them among our ranks. That goes for the many, many other Alludo employees who use volunteer days to make a difference in their communities.

At Alludo, we’re firm believers that culture can’t be dictated. Our CEO Christa Quarles often says that culture is what happens when you’re not in the room. Corporate culture should be a representation of the individual personalities, skills, backgrounds, and experiences of the people who work there. These stories from Birgit and Douglas—and the many other stories that we continue to hear—are an indication that Alludo’s culture is generous, resilient, empathetic, proactive, brave, resourceful, and so many other good things. It’s a reminder that giving happens in so many ways; energy, time, skills and resources. It might look different for everyone, but a corporate volunteering program is essential to building a culture of giving.