Creating a company culture of volunteerism in your organization can help your community and the world while improving your business. Employee-sponsored volunteerism appeals to consumers who prefer doing business with socially responsible companies and employees who want to make a difference in the world. Whether you focus on climate issues, racial injustice, diversity and inclusion, poverty, or another concern, the shared mission can create a stronger workplace culture and help businesses embrace corporate social responsibility.
We’ll explore how volunteering helps businesses and their employees and share best practices for creating an employee volunteer program.
According to the 2022 Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose Giving in Numbers report, 84 percent of companies offer flexible scheduling or paid time off for their employees’ volunteer opportunities. Some businesses even allot up to 60 hours of volunteer time off.
Here are some of the benefits volunteerism brings to employees.
Employees feel empowered when they can contribute to causes close to their hearts. According to the Giving in Numbers report, employees are more likely to participate in volunteer programs when the cause resonates with them.
Deloitte’s Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey found that today’s Gen Z and millennial employees feel the need to balance work lives with a drive for societal change. They’re drawn to businesses that allow them to be of service to the community. In return, employees will feel a heightened level of commitment to their company and team, offering substantial growth and development opportunities for both.
Employees are hired for the talents and skills necessary to perform their jobs. However, most, if not all, likely have untapped skills they’d appreciate exploring — ones that would bring enormous value to their organizations.
Volunteer programs open a new world for employees to explore their talents, improve skills, and learn new skills. In fact, the Giving in Numbers report revealed that employees volunteer more when the employer offers skills-based programs. Of companies offering employer-sponsored volunteerism, 73 percent offer skills-based volunteer programs that allow employees to practice and explore tangible skills to help their communities.
Whether employees learn new skills or hone current talents, they’ll bring this expertise back to their organization along with higher self-worth and a higher value to the company.
A Journal of Happiness study found that volunteering can positively impact physical and mental health, alleviate stress, and experience increased life satisfaction. In other words, people who volunteer are happier.
Employees who participate in volunteerism benefit from higher morale and an increase in overall happiness — and happier employees see significant productivity boosts. When employees feel good about being at work, they tend to work harder and take pride in their company.
Volunteering can help employees discover untapped talents and may even help them realize their leadership potential.
Volunteer programs are an excellent platform for employees to discover a natural affinity to lead, especially when participating in activities that require sharp management and organizational skills. For the company, discovering new leaders is a valuable opportunity to strengthen the entire organization.
Volunteer programs also benefit the companies that sponsor them. Some advantages of sponsoring volunteerism include the following.
According to the Deloitte survey, millennials and Gen Zers say a sense of purpose is critical — along with a positive work-life balance and pay — when choosing new employers. Nearly two in five of the younger generations, and nearly half of those in leadership positions, have rejected a job because it didn’t align with their personal ethics.
Today’s employees want to make a societal and environmental impact, so companies that offer employer-sponsored volunteer programs are more attractive. Companies that help their employees impact the world through volunteerism have a better chance of attracting and retaining top talent.
Just as employees want to work for a company that positively impacts the world, today’s consumers prefer supporting companies and brands that are public and transparent about their corporate social responsibility initiatives. Volunteer programs that feature employees connecting with communities through social initiatives are positively received by the public, which can improve a brand’s image organically.
According to Gallup, only 36 percent of employees feel positively engaged in their positions, although they want to be invested in, connected to and enthusiastic about their employers. Volunteer programs are an excellent way to create and boost employee engagement, motivating employees to invest time and energy into their employer relationship.
The values and skills they acquire via a volunteer program allow them to perform better while fostering a deeper sense of loyalty to the company. More engaged workers are more productive, making volunteer programs a win for employers, employees, and the causes they support.
To improve employee morale with volunteer programs, preparation and follow-through are crucial. Here are some best practices when developing an employee volunteer program:
Volunteer programs are an excellent way to encourage employees to explore their talents, give back to the world, and develop stronger relationships with their organizations. Businesses benefit from an enhanced brand image and a more engaged and discerning workforce. Positively impacting the world is a noble goal that befits the community, employees and sponsoring companies. Carefully consider your volunteer programs and implement them with sincerity, excellent management, ethical behavior and thoughtful leadership.
Adam Uzialko contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.