Improving the meaningfulness of work, allowing the development of new skills, and fostering autonomy can all be accomplished outside of the workplace through volunteering. When surveyed, 71 percent of U.S. employees said that it is important to work for a company that encourages volunteerism.
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 opportunities. Now, it is easier than ever to provide your employees with a work-life balance beyond vacations and mental health days by encouraging volunteerism.
If you’re interested in developing a corporate giving program that promotes regular volunteering, the tips outlined in this guide can help. We explain how you can encourage volunteerism and maximize your employee’s participation.
Why Is Volunteering On Behalf Of A Workplace Important?
When employees are regularly provided with chances to give back, they feel happier with themselves and believe that they have a purpose beyond their daily responsibilities. Volunteering can help employees become the best versions of themselves, as they are accomplishing a purpose-driven activity that helps others. This concept of realizing one’s full potential is known as self-actualization in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Increased employee productivity
When employees spend a day volunteering in their communities, they will not only come back to work the next day feeling more refreshed, but they will be more productive in their work.
At first, it might seem counterintuitive that productivity can go up when employees regularly get opportunities to take time off of work and volunteer. In reality, though, stepping out of the office and doing something different can often be what people need to get their creative juices flowing.
If employees are fulfilled, they’re not going to be inclined to leave the company and look for another job, are they?
Remember, employees who are committed to their organizations—such as employees who volunteer regularly and feel that they are making an impact in the world—are 87 percent less likely to resign compared to employees who are disengaged.
These days, many job seekers look beyond salary and benefits when reviewing potential employers. They also want to work for a company that is committed to giving back and making a difference in the world or locally.
Suppose your company has a reputation for encouraging volunteer work and making it possible for employees to volunteer. In that case, it will be easier for you to attract qualified candidates who share your company’s values and mission.
Better team connections
When employees have a chance to work side-by-side while also giving back to the community, they develop stronger bonds and become closer than they would be if they only ever knew each other within the context of the office.
These stronger relationships can lead to better collaboration, more effective problem-solving, and greater morale when everyone returns to work.
Development of new skills
Volunteer work gives employees a new way to develop and show off their skills. In the case above, it might be volunteering with another colleague and returning to work the next day feeling more collaborative.
On the other hand, volunteering offers several soft skills that can be applied in the workplace to make any employee a star worker. Leadership, time management, organization, and teamwork are just a few skills that an individual can learn or refine through volunteering.
How Can Volunteerism Be Encouraged In The Workplace?
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 for how encouraging volunteerism:
Offer paid volunteer days
One of the easiest ways to encourage people to volunteer is to pay them for their time. If people 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.
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 cause, and volunteer opportunities matching these criteria will populate. Compile a list of 4-5 volunteer forums (or have your HR team take the lead on this) and have this list posted on your shared drive for employees to explore.
Develop volunteer committees
You don’t have to spearhead the formation of a volunteer program all by yourself. Consider establishing a volunteer committee and appointing a leader (or a few leaders) to manage the program for you. Ask around and gauge interest from other employees who wish to help.
Appointing a designated volunteer committee gives some of your employees a chance to show off their leadership skills and enjoy the satisfaction that derives from getting a new program off the ground.
Seek employee input
You may see better results from your employee volunteer program if you get input from your employees before you get started. Developing a volunteer survey is the most effective method to get the most feedback in a short period.
In your survey, ask employees how important volunteering is to them, how many paid volunteer days they wish to have a year, and what elements they believe would make a successful corporate volunteer program.
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 from the last month (i.e., the individuals who contributed the most hours). 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?
Virtual company leaderboard
Track the progress of an employee volunteer program once implemented. Keep a running tally of the amount of employees who have volunteered and the number of charities they have helped. Showcase these results throughout the year to show your entire company the impact these individuals are making.
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. And as a result, employees who are not currently volunteering will realize every contribution’s impact.
Sometimes, all people 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 giving program and highlight some of the skills and experiences employees can gain from volunteering. Ensure you also remind your employees of the online volunteer forums available for them to search for meaningful causes that they can give back to.