Community Relations Impacts Avnet's Employee Engagement

By Nonprofit Marketing ArizonaFebruary 22, 2016

On Sept. 23, 2015, Avnet, Inc. employee Ken Marlin wielded a pair of oversized scissors as he cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open Avnet “stores” in two BizTowns located at Tempe-based Junior Achievement of Arizona. Ken, along with several other Avnet employees, spent countless hours developing the curriculum and creating hands-on exhibits that teach children how to build a personal computer, as well as the ins and outs of what makes a global technology distributor work. Avnet’s partnership with Junior Achievement will expose more than 20,000 Phoenix-area grade school students to the company and employee volunteers in the next year alone. This project is the amalgamation of corporate social responsibility and employee engagement. (Plus, it is a ton of fun!) Embracing employee volunteerism at all levels of an organization can have a significant impact on employee well-being, retention and recruiting. Not to mention the additional benefits of good PR and overall goodwill toward the communities where we live, work and play. 

Avnet’s partnership with Junior Achievement of Arizona, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating K-12 students about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy, is one of the many Arizona nonprofits that benefit from our team’s philanthropic efforts. Last year, Avnet donated more than $345,000 to 74 nonprofits in Arizona. We are a giving bunch. But we don’t just give for the sake of giving. At Avnet, we’ve enlisted our more than 18,000 employees around the world to lead our volunteer efforts through a program called Avnet Cares. Our employees choose what organizations to focus on and what activities they want to do to help out. As a result, Avnet employees provided their service to 250+ organizations around the world. Avnet has seen that the more that our employees are encouraged to give, the more we - as an organization - get back in return. 

Creating Happy, Healthy Employees One Volunteer at a Time 

When we asked our employees what they valued about working at Avnet, work-life harmony ranked high on their list, along with career development and the relationships formed with others at work. Volunteerism touches on all of these aspects, giving our employees ample time to support the causes most important to them while allowing them the opportunity to expand their expertise by exploring skills-based volunteer opportunities. Research has shown that volunteering also improves mood, increases the ability to connect with peers and creates a greater sense of purpose in life. According to a 2013 study from UnitedHealth Group, 78 percent of people who volunteered reported lower stress levels and 76 percent said that volunteering made them feel healthier overall. 

As a component of our Well-Being initiative, Avnet launched its first Global Month of Service during October 2015. Throughout the month Avnet employees were encouraged to participate in service to the community. In early October, 120 employees participated in a Serve-A-Thon in conjunction with HandsOn Greater Phoenix refurbishing Stevenson Elementary School in Mesa. During our Global Month of Service, employees also gave donations to the United Way, organized fundraisers benefiting Autism Speaks®, and held a food drive to fill the shelves at local food pantries. Our employees are one of our greatest competitive assets and their well-being is of the utmost importance. By providing our employees with multi-faceted opportunities to volunteer in the community, we are able to reinforce our commitment to their health and happiness. 

Energizing Employees for the Long Haul 

As a global, Fortune 500 Company, our business, like many others encounters peaks and valleys – especially in this accelerated business environment. That’s why it’s paramount that we keep our employees engaged in their work and in the company. Avnet takes employee engagement seriously and routinely surveys our workforce to identify areas of progress and strength, as well as areas that need attention and improvement. By offering opportunities to serve their community, our employees step outside the office and return to work energized and enthusiastic about working for a company that supports them. Ken Marlin says, “I really love that Avnet looks for ways to help the community and goes beyond our regular volunteer programs to support programs such as the Junior Achievement BizTown that allows employees who are passionate about technology to share that passion as well as our skills with students.” 

The New Normal: Millennials Demand a Service-Based Culture 

Today’s Millennial employees are entering the workforce with an expectation that volunteerism will play a role in their professional careers. As the competition for talent heats up, many organizations will be hard-pressed to find employees who want to work for their companies if there isn’t a community giving component associated with their brand. According to a Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey, 61 percent of Millennials said a volunteer program would be a factor when choosing between two potential jobs with the same locations, responsibilities, pay and benefits. 

Every summer, Avnet hosts a 12-week college intern program at our Phoenix headquarters. For the past seven years, one of the first projects interns undertake not only helps the community, but also helps them learn about Avnet’s culture of giving. This past May, 67 interns volunteered more than 300 hours to help support Homeward Bound, a nonprofit dedicated to providing transitional housing and other services to Arizona families. It is projects like this that make brand ambassadors out of interns and future Avnet employees. 

Reaping the Rewards of Good  


Employee volunteer programs are an increasingly important component of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In 2014, Avnet issued our first CSR report detailing the impact that our employees have had in the communities they serve. For our efforts, Avnet was recently awarded the Don Carlos Humanitarian Award, Guiding Light Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy from the Tempe City Council. We were also honored with the City of Chandler Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Top 100 Companies for our impact to the city’s economy through our contributions to ICAN, Chandler/Gilbert YMCA, Chandler Food Bank and the Salvation Army. Avnet’s annual Operation Back to School supply drive was also recognized by the City of Chandler as a For Our City award recipient. 

As Arizona’s largest public company our responsibility to employees, industry and global community extends well beyond business and financial goals. We are proud of our long history of community involvement both through financial giving and hands-on volunteerism. By sponsoring initiatives important to employees, and advocating for the communities in which we do business, Avnet plans to continue making an impact both locally and around the globe.