Why was the 3M Impact Programme created?
As the social investment arm of 3M, 3Mgives leads programmes to improve lives in our communities. 3Mgives developed and prioritises the 3M Impact programme to leverage the exceptional skills of its employees to help solve some of the world's most pressing problems.
The 3M Impact programmes were designed to align with and support the 3M Sustainability Pillars (Science for Circular, Science for Climate and Science for Community), an enterprise-wide vision for a more sustainable future that focuses on applying science to solve customer problems, reduce environmental impact and improve lives around the world.
The programme enables 3M employees to utilise their talent on a pro-bono basis to support the capability of non-profits or social enterprises to deliver mission-critical work.
How does it work?
Pyxera Global is one of the implementing partners of the programmes within the 3M Impact portfolio, including the 3M Impact Local programme. Allowing the 3M local office employees to give back to their communities, teams of 12 to 15 3M volunteers with diverse skill-sets spend between two and eight weeks collaborating with local programme partners, such as NGOs/NPOs, social enterprises and educational institutions. The programme uses a hybrid approach that combines both virtual and in-person consulting to develop solutions for these programme partners.
How long is each project?
For the 3M Impact Local programme, we offer different programme models and adjust the timeline/ duration depending on the needs of 3M local offices and the partner organisation.
Projects can vary from two, five, or eight weeks, with a mix of virtual, in-person and hybrid formats.
Once programme length and structure are determined, Pyxera Global designs and implements programme components, such as non-profit selection and training content, accordingly. The expectation is for all project deliverables to be finalised within the project timeframe. While all participating employees and non-profits commit to that timeframe, employees will often choose to stay in touch with their non-profits beyond the programme conclusion despite that not being a programme requirement.
What sort of projects do you get involved with?
Projects have involved anything from business development frameworks, overhauling websites, communication strategies, developing significant organisational efficiencies and workforce improvement processes.
During the project development process, we work to make sure that deliverables are achievable within the timeframe, whilst also recruiting employees with the necessary skills to support the project.
The programme is clearly mutually beneficial to both the volunteers and the organisations. What are some of the less obvious benefits to both parties?
After completing the programme, we find that employees have learned a lot of valuable things about themselves. Initially they might question whether they have the right skills or the knowledge to contribute to specific project objectives. However, the collaborative nature of the project allows all individuals to utilise their unique skills and leaves participants with heightened confidence in their capabilities.
3M participants also report that the programme offers them important and unique learning and development opportunities that support their career goals, while demonstrating 3M’s commitment to their professional well-being.
Participants share that transferring things learned through volunteering to their work can lead to a positive business impact for 3M. One example is the way that the programme’s experience provides employee participants with inspiration for new ideas for products, services, or improvements that could apply to their work at 3M.
The community benefit of 3M Impact is also significant. Participating non-profits consistently report that the programme enhanced their ability to serve their target beneficiaries while creating cost savings through operational efficiency. Furthermore, organisations report that they gain skills that naturally occur through the project, such as new problem-solving skills and the ability to use the tools that they observe being utilised by the 3M employees.
How do you ensure that proper impact is made within two weeks?
That's a great question and is one of the most important parts of the project development process. A large part of Pyxera Global’s role in the recruitment process is emphasising the programme duration to non-profits. We have various discussions with non-profits as they develop project ideas to really make sure they're focused on specific deliverables and milestones that are neither too large or too narrow in scope. After the application process concludes and the list of participating non-profits is finalised, we go through a refinement process. The first action that the 3M employees are tasked with is to prepare a scope of work document that outlines specific objectives, deliverables, and milestones. Completing the scope of work ensures that employees and non-profits are aligned on expectations and that the workflow is efficient for the project duration.
Collaboration between 3M and the organisations you help is clearly key. How do you decide which projects 3M works on?
This is one of the hardest parts of the job. We use several criteria to guide this process.
First, we evaluate how aligned the non-profit is with 3M’s sustainability pillars and how strong the fit is between the volunteers’ skillsets and the skills required by the submitted projects. Another important factor is the internal structure of the non-profit and the capacity they have to support the project and implement the recommendations. It’s important that they can use the help that’s provided beyond the programme's conclusion.
There also needs to be support within leadership of the NGO to ensure that the partnership is mutually beneficial.
What lessons have you learned through implementing the programme?
The biggest lesson has been how important it is to create strong relationships among all programme stakeholders. This includes the 3M local offices that support the programme and encourage 3M employees to apply. It’s also important to establish strong partnerships with participating non-profits to ensure the experience is beneficial and successful for them.
Collaboration has to be at the heart of everything we do. While 3M employees are technically the pro bono consultants, Pyxera Global encourages them to approach the project as a collaboration. The employees provide technical expertise and knowledge, while the non-profits are the experts when it comes to knowledge of the local social sector and issues. Approaching the project as a collaboration where every party is a valuable contributor leads to the most successful end results.
What projects are you supporting in the UK this year?
“We are delighted to be hosting a 3M Impact Local programme,” said Katherine Parks, 3M’s HR Operations leader for North Europe.
“Seventeen employees have volunteered their support for four projects; helping to improve the operational efficiency of a carbon footprint reduction project; developing communications to attract funding for a digital equity initiative; enhancing the sales and marketing impact of a nature-based charity improving the wellbeing of young children; and developing strategies to recruit and retain staff at a hospice for children with life-limiting illnesses.
“Our volunteers will be bringing together skills and expertise ranging from talent acquisition, digital operations, and marketing intelligence, through to finance, product development engineering and supply chain management.
“The programme provides a great opportunity for them to apply their skills, collaborate, explore creative thinking and make a contribution towards improving sustainability, while giving local community members in need better life chances.”