There are plenty of reasons to be down on technology these days – personal interaction is often replaced by social media, the art of a good phone conversation has been replaced by a text message, Google has turned into a substitute for having to actually think ….I could go on. So it’s refreshing to hear about the times when technology is used for good, which is what happened this past May during Sabre’s annual, week-long global volunteer campaign, Give Time Together.

Each year, employees around the world are asked to organize volunteer events to support non-profit organizations in their local communities. It’s called volunteering for a reason – the company doesn’t make anyone do it – but that didn’t stop this year’s Give Time campaign chairman and technology Vice President John Hanson from wanting to blow our usual participation rates out of the water. In John’s eyes, the company gives employees paid time to go out and do some good, so there’s no reason why every employee shouldn’t take advantage of the opportunity, right? As a corporate responsibility manager, I couldn’t agree more.

Taking a cue from Sabre’s competitive culture and technology expertise, John had an innovative idea to partner with analytics vendor, Qlickview, to create a slick-looking dashboard that visually displays employee participation in volunteer events. Data was fed to the dashboard from our online volunteer site where employees sign-up for events and log the hours they spend volunteering. Dashboard viewers could drill down into the participation data by business unit, leader, location, volunteer event and more. To ensure employee privacy, we stopped the drilldown at the mid-level manager level.

The dashboard was rolled out two months in advance of the official Give Time week, which was key; it allowed us to see participation rates before many of the volunteer events had even taken place. Campaign managers could see which events needed more volunteers and which employee groups still needed to sign-up for an event, giving them the opportunity to play event “matchmaker.” The result was more employee engagement and higher participation levels than ever before.

Employees loved seeing how their efforts were part of a larger global movement to do good things. Leaders loved knowing whether their efforts to inspire their teams to participate were effective. Teams with high participation held their heads up a little higher. Teams with low participation rallied together in the name of helping others. And everyone was thrilled when we met our stretch goal of 50 percent global employee participation, a 45 percent year over year increase. That increase translated into more meals packed for hungry children in Haiti, more trees planted across Poland, more lives touched at an orphanage in India…the list goes on and on. Our people have always been what makes our company great, but it was the technology behind this year’s campaign that really unleashed the power of our people to make a greater difference in their communities around the globe. Isn’t technology amazing?