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United Way Blog

Herzlichen Dank, John Deere.

When John Deere decided to hold its first Employee Volunteer Day in Germany in late October, no one knew what to expect.

Of course, volunteerism and corporate citizenship have been a strong part of John Deere´s 178 year history. For example thousands of employees show up for United Way’s Day of Caring (sponsored by United Way of the Quad Cities Area) in the Quad Cities, Iowa/Illinois each year. In fact, John Deere employees  recorded more than 104,000 volunteerism hours in 2015.

But  volunteerism events bigger than departmental activities was something new at the four German John Deere plants, Mannheim, Zweibrücken, Bruchsal, and Kaiserslautern. The idea was to have fun together – because that’s part of working together well – and to make a difference in, the communities in which many plant employees live and work.

And that matters. Employees who volunteer through the workplace report higher job satisfaction rates, according to research United Way conducted with the London School of Economics and the University of Georgia earlier this year.

John Deere spotlighted a pressing social issue as well: hunger. 1 in 7 people in Germany live below poverty level – mostly children. The company wanted its October Day of Caring (Freiwilligentag 2015) to both raise awareness of the need as well as support local food banks.

That happened – and more. Over 300 John Deere employees joined Mark von Pentz, President of John Deere’s Agriculture and Turf Division that morning. Together, they filled 6,000 bags with food for the German food bank, “Die Tafel”, and loaded the bags for its employees to distribute. Employee enthusiasm soared according to comments on DRK Mannheim’s Facebook page.

The day, which was underwritten by the John Deere Foundation and organized by both United Way Worldwide staff and Phineo, a Berlin-based nonprofit, demonstrates how working together to do good helps all of us do well. That spirit supports John Deere’s employee engagement, and its longstanding partnership with United Way. That’s just one reason United Way recognized John Deere for its outstanding employee engagement in 2015. 

So ”Herzlichen Dank!” to John Deere employees in Germany – and all over the world – for all you’re doing to make the world a better place.