Housebuilding in Africa

Housebuilding in Africa

Why Millennials prefer to build up rather than just relax

In our MJ Blog article Employer-Plus Corporate Responsibility we have already reported that social commitment for companies is also worthwhile in recruitment: Because more and more people nowadays want to make a positive contribution for other people and the environment – and evaluate potential employers also according to whether they share this attitude and support them if necessary with voluntary commitment. Logistics talent Nadine Schmersahl recently travelled to South Africa on her own initiative for an active aid mission. In our interview she explains what this means to her and why she thinks that employers can only benefit from her employees’ experiences.

MJ: Nadine, you just got back from South Africa, where you volunteered for a charity project in Umgababa. Respect! But how did it come about?

Nadine: One of my goals for 2018 was to support a social project. A good friend had the idea of joining forces with Habitat for Humanity. This is an organization that supports needy families in many parts of the world by building houses on its own initiative. When he told me in August 2017 about his plans to build a house for a needy family in Umgababa, South Africa, with a group of friends and acquaintances, I committed myself right there.

MJ: You even sacrificed your summer vacation, your well-deserved free time, for your active commitment. So it must have been very important to you.

Nadine: Yes, I really wanted that. I am fortunate to have been born into a family that is very privileged and I have always had everything. It was important to me to give time and money to people who don’t even have a roof over their heads. For us, basic needs are a matter of course, for these people it is the great happiness.

MJ: You also invested your own money?

Nadine: Yes… Since the Habitat for Humanity project is only financed by donations, unfortunately every volunteer has to pay for his flight ticket and supplies on site.

MJ: So not only donations are needed for the building of the house itself, but also to sponsor the volunteer work on site. They could provide companies – and thus possibly also support their own employees in their social commitment, right?

Nadine: Yes, that would be great! In our project, however, none of us volunteers were supported by our employer. Neither financially nor with additional holidays. One of us would probably have received a donation from his employer if he had registered the budget earlier. For the coming year he has already announced it and we hope for a generous donation.

MJ: Of course that would make the company very likeable – even as an employer. Do you personally think such a form of social corporate responsibility could positively influence young people like you in their decisions about who they work for?

Housebuilding in Africa

Nadine: The support of an employer, whether in financial form or by additional vacation days for such projects is in any case a big plus. In this way, an employer demonstrates its recognition and appreciation for its employees. Especially as such a “holiday” is not a relaxing beach holiday, but hard physical work. And on top of that, as in my case, it is very expensive.

As an employee you learn so much about communication and cooperation with people of other cultures and languages in such a project that in my opinion the employer also benefits from it. In addition, employees demonstrate 100 percent that they are team players in such a project. We nine volunteers supported each other at every second, always paying attention to each other and thus demonstrating real team strength.

MJ: : Now you’re back on the job and with your work team. How do you feel after your commitment and has it changed something in your perspective on your (working) everyday life?

Housebuilding in Africa

Nadine: I am flooded with positive feelings, gratitude and have learned a lot about Zulu culture. I am sure that this in turn will help me in my daily work in communicating with the different European countries, their different cultures and languages. I have learned to be less angry about unimportant things and more patient in working with other cultures.

Another interesting experience I have had is that there is a lot of authority in South Africa: between colored and white people, but also between rich and poor. We Europeans do not know such a thing in the form. We always have a supervisor who has the responsibility and makes a final decision – but the interaction is characterized by mutual respect. We really work together and that is something that is very important to me as an employee. I like to work in a team, to be taken seriously by my boss, to be heard and respected.

MJ: That’s a nice ending! Today, team leadership has less and less to do with authority. Thank you for the inspiring conversation, Nadine!

Housebuilding in Africa

Nadine: Thank you too. I hope that many people will read this blog and then decide to help if they can – or to support their employees generously.

24-year-old Nadine Schmersahl works for an international transport and logistics company in Barcelona, including the Road Division. For her social commitment, she has taken extra time off from her duties.

About Nathalie Wendt

Nathalie WendtNathalie Wendt is a freelance content and social media manager. She is the editor of the ManaJump blog and is our all-round professional for text and communication.