Learning through doingOn 1 May 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Corporate social responsibility forms an integral part of Co-operativeInsurance Society’s HR strategy. PatAshworth, CIS training manager, explains how everybody benefitsThe values and principles of an organisation are increasingly important inattracting the right candidates for job vacancies. How a company deals with itsenvironmental impact, community involvement and work-life balance are somethinga discerning jobseeker will take into account when deciding which organisationsto apply to. How are the values put into practice once new staff are recruited? One wayis via training and development and volunteering opportunities, which canimprove staff retention and be used to harness the values of the business. CIS has a strong set of values, rooted in the Co-operative movement, whichdrive its commitment to being a socially responsible business. CIS’ communityinvolvement programme is a core element of its HR training and personaldevelopment scheme. Social awareness One specific objective is to develop social awareness via communityinvolvement opportunities. Not only does this enable staff to give somethingback to the community but it also offers an alternative method of team buildingand skill development. Its graduate training course highlights some of the practical skills neededwithin the workplace (giving presentations, time-management) and introducesCIS’ Social Accountability Programme. Graduates complete community challengesas a group, creating a nature trail in a playground or a stimulatingenvironment for a children’s centre, for example. The graduates are required toplan exactly how they will tackle the project and who will undertake whichtasks. The local Manchester and Salford Family Service Unit provides facilities forpre-school children, after-school groups and social groups for older people.Graduate trainees have been involved in brightening the place up. Practical challenges are not limited to graduates. One of the social accountabilityobjectives for last year was for each CIS department to complete a challenge.This included acquiring materials including paints, spades and protectiveclothing, creating enthusiasm within the teams and making arrangements forhealth and safety checks, refreshments and publicity. For those relatively new in a department, it provides an opportunity to takecontrol of a project and to get to know colleagues. For an employee who hasbeen there for years, it is a welcome change from an office environment andgives managers a chance to work as a real part of the team. Staff are able to take time out of the working day to read with children –particularly inner city schools. CIS encourages employees to become schoolgovernors through the One-Stop-Shop scheme, aimed at recruiting those withtransferable management skills to get involved in inner city schools. CIS staff are also involved in mentoring at schools throughout Manchesterand in environmental projects with schools through Global Action Plan. All ofthese initiatives help to build a number of skills, such as leadership, teamworking, organisation and improve self-confidence. Another prime example was CIS’ disability awareness and training programmefor all its 10,000 staff, which concentrated on raising awareness of the issuesfacing disabled people. In conjunction with the North West Disability Service, CIS has alsodeveloped a work preparation programme entitled Return to Work. The three-dayprogramme develops interview skills, confidence and general business awareness.Candidates selected for the course are guaranteed an interview with CIS andsuccessful candidates are placed into a range of permanent positions. So far,10 people have been placed into permanent jobs. These community initiatives complement other forms of development, such asthe introduction of the CIS Training and Development Guide, which outlines therange of learning opportunities. Details for staff are available online,printed or through department representatives. Related posts:No related photos.