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How To Encourage Volunteerism In The Workplace

Giving back begins with your people. Encourage volunteerism and maximize the number of employees taking part to amplify your company's social impact.

Greater employee retention, increased productivity, and improved employee relations can all be accomplished by encouraging volunteerism in the workplace.

Over the last few years, volunteering has transformed significantly. Individuals are not just finding opportunities in their free time to give back; rather, they are volunteering on behalf of their workplaces.

Many workplaces are offering paid volunteer days and providing employees with resources to connect with giving opportunities. Now, it is easier than ever to provide your employees with a work-life balance beyond vacation and mental health days by encouraging volunteerism.

If you’re interested in developing a workplace giving program that promotes regular volunteering, the tips outlined in this blog will assist you. We explain the benefits of workplace volunteering and how you can encourage volunteerism while maximizing employee participation.

What Are The Benefits Of Workplace Volunteering?

Increased employee productivity

At first, it might seem counterintuitive that productivity can go up when employees regularly get opportunities to take time off of work and volunteer. However, 74 percent of employees feel more fulfilled in their jobs when they are given a chance to participate in an activity that’s enjoyable and rewarding.

The feelings of satisfaction and joy that stem from fulfilled employees leads to increased productivity. An extensive study found that happy workers are 13% more productive in their tasks at work.

Employee retention

Aside from only meeting the basic requirements of their job, employees want to discover new talents, learn valuable skills, and gain a broader perspective on the world—which can all be accomplished through volunteering. These new talents, perspectives, and skills adopted from volunteering are what help employees develop a strong connection to their workplace.

Employees who feel strongly connected to their organizations—such as employees who volunteer regularly and have the opportunity to further their professional development—are 87 percent less likely to resign compared to employees who are disengaged.

Recruitment of like-minded candidates

A company’s purpose plays a significant role when an individual evaluates employment prospects, as 78% of individuals are more likely to want to work for a purpose-driven company.

Suppose your company has a reputation for encouraging volunteer work and providing employees with the resources they need to become changemakers. As a result, it will be easier for you to attract talented candidates who share your company’s values and mission.

Improved employee relations

Employees who work for remote companies, but are located near one another, can form meaningful bonds by volunteering together. These stronger bonds lead to better collaboration, more effective problem-solving, and greater morale between virtual workers.

Even if your organization operates full-time from its office, employees should be given opportunities to connect outside of team meetings or break room huddles. The relaxed atmosphere and absence of hierarchy that a volunteer day presents make employees feel more comfortable interacting with one another.


Development of new skills among employees

Volunteering offers several soft skills that can be applied in the workplace to make any employee an efficient worker. Attention to detail, time management, organization, and teamwork are just a few soft skills that an individual can learn or refine through volunteering. 

For instance, an employee might spend a day volunteering at a food bank making care packages for low-income families. After several hours of ensuring that each care package has the correct mix of non-perishable items, an employee’s attention to detail can improve.

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How to encourage employees to volunteer

Your company will benefit when you start an employee volunteer program and make it a key component of your company culture. However, the act of doing so can be a challenging task. Employers may not make an ongoing effort to prioritize volunteering, and as a result, employees won’t feel motivated to want to commit their time and get involved in their communities.  

Here are some effective tactics to encourage volunteerism:

1) Offer paid volunteer days

One of the easiest ways to encourage employees to volunteer is to pay them for their time. If employees know that they don’t have to sacrifice a day’s pay to participate in your company’s volunteer program, they will be much more inclined to join in and give back.

Consider including a certain number of paid volunteer days in your company’s benefits package and regularly encourage employees to use them. This could come in the form of periodically reminding them volunteer days are available in your next all-hands meeting or company-wide newsletter.

2) Provide discovery resources

Some individuals may not volunteer because they don’t know what opportunities are available in their community. If you make it easier for employees to learn about ways to volunteer, they will be more inclined to follow through and utilize their paid volunteer days.

There are a handful of online volunteer forums where employees can seamlessly search by geographic region or focus area, and volunteer opportunities matching these criteria will populate. Compile a list of 4-5 volunteer forums and have this list posted on your shared drive for employees to explore.  


3) Encourage an employee-led approach

Although a workplace volunteer program may be formed by an HR Manager or The Head of People and Culture, the program doesn’t have to be exclusively managed by leadership. Rather, enable employees to assist in moulding a volunteer program they are excited to join and continually participate in.

Below are a few tactics on how to execute an employee-led approach:

  1. Let employees choose nonprofits and charities to support. Aside from providing discovery resources to connect less-informed employees with opportunities, encourage employees to support any cause they care about on company time.
  2. Create an online communication board for employees to share any volunteer opportunities they find with their co-workers.
  3. Enable employees to share the accomplishments from their volunteer day. Aside from leadership recognizing employees for their hard work, provide an open environment where employees can publicly share their achievements whenever they choose.


4) Seek employee feedback

You may see better results from your employee volunteer program if you get input from your employees in advance. The development of a survey will ensure your volunteer program meets the needs and preferences of your employees, motivating them to become involved in volunteer work.

In your volunteer survey, ask your employees:

  1. How many paid volunteer days do they wish to have per year.
  2. What elements do they believe would make a successful corporate volunteer program, i.e., company-wide volunteer days, regular recognition, or a rewards program.
  3. How many company-wide volunteer days (in addition to paid volunteer days) would they like to participate in per year? And what types of charities would they be interested in volunteering at with their colleagues?
Care packages created from an employee volunteer day

How Can Businesses Maximize The Participation Of Volunteer Programs?

After you have encouraged volunteering in your organization, the next goal is to maximize participation so that as many of your employees become active community members. Celebrating the accomplishments of your staff who are already volunteers is an effective way to motivate others who may need a little more encouragement to get involved.

The following are some ways that you can celebrate their accomplishments to maximize participation:

Recognition in monthly newsletters

Do you send out a monthly newsletter to your employees? If so, that’s the perfect place to include a spotlight where you shout out those who are participating in the company’s volunteer program.

Perhaps you could recognize a different employee each month or celebrate the top 3 volunteers who contributed the most hours last month. Why not consider also doing a more detailed write-up where you interview a different volunteer each month and ask them what motivates them to give back?

Track employee participation

Track the progress of an employee volunteer program once implemented. Stay up-to-date on the number of employees who have volunteered, the hours they have contributed, and the number of charities and nonprofits they have helped. Showcase these results throughout the year to show your entire company the impact these individuals are making.

Tracking a volunteer program on a social impact platform

If your employees can see how they stack up compared to other team members when it comes to volunteering, you’ll foster some healthy competition among staff. Additionally, employees not currently volunteering can see the impact of their colleagues’ contributions and develop a desire to volunteer themselves.

Verbal encouragement

Sometimes, all employees need is a little verbal encouragement to inspire them to start volunteering. 

For instance, during a team meeting, you can emphasize why your company is involved in a corporate volunteer program and highlight some of the skills and experiences employees can gain from volunteering. Remind your employees of the online volunteer forums available for them to search for meaningful causes. Also, emphasize that any nonprofit or charity they want to support outside the volunteer forums is a worthwhile opportunity to pursue.

Engage Your Workplace In Volunteerism

Outside the office, employees wear many hats, and one hat you can ensure they are wearing is a ‘volunteer’ hat. Encouraging your employees to become active community volunteers enables them to connect with meaningful causes, learn new skills, and build valuable connections. And once they are recognized and celebrated for their volunteer efforts in the workplace, they will truly feel like a force for good in their community.

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