CSR initiatives | How Samsung used 'love letters' to boost wellbeing

How Samsung used 'love letters' to boost wellbeing
How Samsung used 'love letters' to boost wellbeing

Employee wellbeing has been a focal point for HR leaders since the coronavirus pandemic hit. As staff continue to work from home, away from their teams and regular day-to-day interaction, the morale and wellbeing of staff has unsurprisingly taken a hit.

Recent research by Vision Direct has highlighted this plight, as in its study of 2,000 employees, 41% shared that they now feel more anxious and isolated than ever before, after already spending months at home indoors. Following the news of the three-tier system to curb the spread of the virus, these fears have once again been exasperated as staff worry they will be locked down.

With the traditional way of working in the office looking further from reality, employers have started to roll out initiatives to boost wellbeing virtually. One business that is pushing this is Samsung, who has developed ways to connect people as coronavirus continues to cause difficulties. In particular, the firm has concentrated on how the crisis has impacted vulnerable communities and has adapted its employee volunteering programme so that it continues to work remotely.

Speaking about the adaptation, Jessie Soohyun Park, Samsung’s Head of CSR, told HR Grapevine that the initiative allows employees to feel like they are helping regardless of where they are based, which can boost morale, engagement and wellbeing. “Volunteering from home offers a simple, safe and flexible way to make a big difference to good causes across the UK and Ireland. By matching a wide range of employees’ relevant skills with charities’ needs, businesses can support essential services at a time when they are needed more than ever,” she said.  

“One of the benefits of this type of volunteering is that employees can support good causes wherever they might be based – all while at home, fitting around other time commitments.”

‘Letters of Love’

As part of the initiative, Samsung launched the 1000 Letters of Love campaign, which encourages employees to send letters to isolated people facing loneliness throughout the pandemic. According to Park, this scheme has been fulfilling and rewarding to staff, and “feedback from employees across the business has been brilliant”.

One employee, Thomas Boston, Legal Counsel at Samsung UK, said: “It had a real effect on me too; it made me realise that even half an hour can make a difference to someone’s day or week, so why not do it more often. In times like these it’s so important to show compassion to people less fortunate than ourselves”.

Benefits of volunteering

Statistics from the ONS have revealed that 7.4million people across the UK say that their wellbeing has been affected by feeling lonely during lockdown, which is why Samsung’s CSR head believes volunteering can help. This type of corporate social responsibly (CSR) has also started to resonate with CEOs, too. In fact, the 2016 PwC Global CEO survey found that 64% of CEOs say that CSR is core to their business rather than being a stand-alone program.

And more employees are now able to put in time to volunteer, as 2018 research shared by Benefacto stated that an estimated 11million people in the UK are given paid time off to volunteer. This, Park says, has proven wellbeing benefits, as she explained: “It’s not just the recipients of volunteering who benefit. Volunteering is proven to have wellbeing benefits for the volunteers themselves, and by taking part, employees feel engaged and rewarded – all of which is particularly important in helping to stay connected and motivated while working from home.”

This is also backed by research by Neighbourly, which found that 80% of employees who took part in volunteering stated it made them happier, while 100% said they felt proud to work for a company as a result.

Sense of community

Samsung’s CSR head is now imploring businesses to recognise the business benefits of CSR schemes like the Letters of Love and volunteering, encouraging them to integrate these ideas into businesses models. With the crisis looking set to stay for some time, she shared that employers should look to support vulnerable people, to continue building a sense of community during difficult times.

She concluded: “Companies of all sizes have contributed to get urgent support to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. But with the impacts of the crisis continuing to cause hardship for people across the UK, we cannot afford for this sense of community spirit to stop now.”

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