Volunteering and supporting social causes helps strengthen a sense of purpose and fulfilment. While giving back to the community undoubtedly benefits those in need, it also profoundly impacts the volunteers themselves.
Volunteering activities allow you to connect with your own community and form meaningful relationships – strengthening your sense of belonging and connectedness. These activities are also an opportunity for personal growth. Engaging in activities outside our comfort zones allows us to acquire new knowledge and skills, enhance our self-confidence, and broaden our horizons.
Focusing on giving back to communities and supporting our people’s growth, we have created a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy that allows all colleagues to dedicate their time to social causes they wish to support. Colleagues develop a stronger sense of identity and purpose by aligning their values with their professional activities, positively impacting their wellbeing.
Zigmars Rozentals and Normunds Lauva, Business Consultants at Emergn, actively contribute to Mission Possible as part of our CSR activities in Latvia. Mission Possible, Iespejama Misija in Latvian, is a non-governmental organization (NGO) partner of the international organization Teach for All, aiming to strengthen the value of education in Latvia by helping talented university graduates to become inspiring teachers, preschool teachers, and future leaders. We have contributed to this mission by lecturing workshops for the organization’s leadership team to improve their understanding and capabilities in product strategy and development. Working closely with the team, we have reviewed their mission, vision, and programs, developed a business model, identified customer segments, done problem and solution discovery and built outcome-oriented roadmap.
In this article, Zigmars and Normunds, share their experience working with Mission Possible, their motivations to contribute to this challenge, and their advice for employees joining CSR activities.
What motivated you to contribute your time and knowledge to this CSR activity?
I have children of school age, and I’m familiar with the challenges in the educational system. As Mission Possible’s main goal is to improve the education system by preparing teachers, I wanted to give my knowledge and experience in the hope it will help my children and the children of the future to get a better education that’s not solely about book knowledge but a better preparation for the real world.
When we first met with the team of Mission Possible and heard their challenges, goals, and projects, I got excited to contribute to these workshops. They’re a team of high-level professionals leading programs that impact teachers’ and Childrens’ lives. They put children at the centre of everything they do and implement methods and measurements of the quality of education from the child’s perspective focusing on the real value of education – which resonated with my principles and values at work.
Can you describe the experience of running workshops?
Working with Mission Possible was exciting because they showed a great willingness to learn new concepts and approaches. They were open to adopting new ways of working and a product-oriented mindset. While they were already familiar with some of the material, they needed more practical experience in implementing it. Our workshops offered the opportunity to apply this knowledge in real-world scenarios. The team had an incredibly open attitude, eager to learn, and actively engaged in the course – and it was rewarding to witness their enthusiasm to generate ideas.
The experience of running this kind of workshops was new and somewhat challenging. A lot of preparation went into translating and customizing the materials to suit the local audience. It was interesting to meet the challenges and objectives of the team and see how to apply our principles to their specific context and refine our skills and ability to help them.
How has your involvement in Mission Possible and the workshops influenced your personal growth?
Working with Mission Possible was a genuinely fulfilling and personally rewarding experience. It taught me more about the organization’s dedication to improving education. Witnessing their openness to new ways of working and their willingness to embrace change was truly rewarding. In today’s uncertain world, where plans are made in shorter timeframes, and everything is uncertain, their understanding of the need for adaptability is impressive. Their mission to transform the education system aligns with my belief that education plays a crucial role in shaping the next generation of decent and good-hearted individuals. As a parent, I prioritize my children’s education, and seeing the organization’s commitment to children’s future and education resonated with me.
Leading the workshops has given me valuable insights into the challenges of our changing world, particularly about the education system. The emergence of the Alpha generation, equipped with access to extensive and advanced information processing skills from a young age, needs a complete redesign of the education system: the traditional model of teachers providing information in classrooms while children do homework at home is evolving into a system where teachers conduct practical activities while children discover information at home. This shift highlights the need for progressive organizations like Mission Possible, which prioritize the needs and problems of children. Parents often lack knowledge of the latest pedagogical approaches, which underscores the crucial role of the educational system in guiding this process. Being part of Mission Possible has been personally rewarding as it has enabled me to contribute to their skills development in understanding and analyzing problems for their services and in better serving their “customers”: children, teachers, school directors, and local government stakeholders.
Can you share specific moments or stories that stood out during the workshops?
During the last session, the leader of Mission Possible shared her enthusiasm and appreciation for the content and discussions. Her final words were filled with excitement, saying they wished they could deliver everything they had learned to the Ministry of Education and other government organizations. It was encouraging to hear such feedback because it affirmed that the content and the skills we were teaching were highly valued and sought after.
In the final minutes of the last session, I had two topics to cover, but there was only time for one. I gave the participants a choice, and they selected the topic related to the change curve and the emotional response to change. I explained the five steps of the curve, starting from denial, moving through frustration and resignation, and ending with exploration, acceptance, and commitment. This resonated deeply with the leader of Mission Possible as she was actively involved in promoting change and encountering emotional challenges along the way. It gave her a sense of understanding and hope, acknowledging that the journey toward change is long. This moment highlighted the content’s relevance and applicability to her personal experiences, and it was rewarding to see its impact on her.
What advice would you give to employees considering getting involved in CSR activities?
Actively seek opportunities to contribute outside of work. Engaging in CSR activities can be a valuable source of personal and professional growth. It offers a refreshing experience that broadens your perspective and allows you to see the world through different eyes. It can help you improve your skills and become a better professional and colleague. These activities are also a chance to meet new people – allowing you to make new friends and establish connections with individuals from diverse backgrounds and organizations.
Always step into the shoes of the organization you’re supporting and try to see the world through their eyes. This approach is especially crucial when developing content and exercises for CSR initiatives. Tailoring your efforts to their specific needs and context is essential to ensure that the activities are relevant and impactful. By adopting this customer-centric mindset, you can better address their challenges and create meaningful solutions. Ultimately, the key is to focus on the organization’s perspective and strive to make a genuine and positive difference in their lives.