With growing concerns over lack of corporate trust, climate change, and social impact, consumers, and employees alike, are looking to do business with socially responsible companies.
In today’s economy, what a company stands for, the issues it supports, and the causes it partners with are often more important than what the company sells or produces. A study done by Reputation Institute found that people’s willingness to invest, recommend, and work for a company is driven 60% by their perception of it.
Corporate volunteering is good for the community, good for employees, and good for business. Employees are looking for more meaningful work, while consumers are looking for more ethical companies. With a corporate volunteer program in place, both can be satisfied.
An increase in quality recruitment and retention of employees who feel more satisfied in both their work and personal lives will lead to an increase in work performance, commitment, and skill development. Consumers will become more aware of the community service provided by the company and therefore more willing to do business. There’s no loss when it comes to corporate volunteer work.
A Gallup study found that 71% of employees felt disengaged from their work. Engagement has been linked to employee productivity, customer service, and overall company performance. Creating a corporate volunteer program can boost employee engagement leading to an increase in employee retention, quality recruitment, commitment, and skill development.
Creating a workplace that fills employees with pride in the work they are doing increases not only employee retention, but participation as well. Introducing a corporate volunteer program gives employees the option of working with a cause that has personal meaning for them, overlapping their personal goals with career goals, and creating an emotional connection to the workplace. This approach serves a long-term benefit that can reduce the costs associated with replacing an employee, while at the same time benefitting employee recruitment, as the program can be an attractive component of the company.
When employees feel connected to their company, their commitment to their work also increases. Engaged employees feel that their contributions not only benefit the overall success of the business, but extends to a charitable cause important to them. Active engagement in a cause that promotes positive impact increases a sense of purpose in the volunteer. However, in the case of an employee volunteering through a corporate program, it can also add to productivity and higher morale in the workplace.
Another crucial factor is the cohesive work that takes place amongst employees who volunteer together. Volunteer groups often have set goals and a clear mission. According to a Deloitte Impact Survey, 92% of employee volunteers agreed that volunteering improved their overall professional skill set and leadership abilities,85% attested to developed communication skills, and 88% found volunteering to play a key role in building character.
Volunteer Projects as Good PR
The bonus that comes with doing good is good public relations. More than a sweet feature in the paper or a well-known site, a corporate volunteer program does wonders for a company’s reputation among consumers. The Cone Study concluded that 85% of consumers held a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about, while 90% of consumers want companies to tell them the ways they are supporting causes. Customers who are in alignment with a company and it’s volunteer efforts are also less likely to perceive a price increase negatively.
Starbucks, Inc. is an example of a company that acts as a leader in Corporate Social Responsibility. Directly through their website, Starbucks will help customers and employees to connect with various volunteer organizations on a global scale to promote ethical and sustainable volunteer work in local communities. The company will also match volunteer hours with a financial contribution to employees who volunteer with a non-profit. Because of the company’s commitment to the environment, social justice, and community service, Starbucks remains in the Top 100 Most Reputable Companies List, garners consumer trust, and retains dedicated employees.
Volunteering is an act of altruism. Businesses should be thoughtful about the kind of volunteer program they want to commit their resources to, and choose programs with a direct impact on the community being served. When implementing a corporate volunteer program, an effort should be made to encourage the participation of every employee.
To establish the excitement of a volunteer program, it is imperative that employers get input from employees on the types of causes they’re passionate about. A few options pertaining to the environment, youth & adolescents, the arts & music, social justice, and several others can be chosen among a group. If smaller groups can be formed to volunteer for either of the choices, consider splitting projects. Find a company within the sector that accepts group volunteers so that employees can get to know one another outside of the work environment.
Volunteer programs sure to excite employees may involve a travel aspect. “Voluntourism” is becoming increasingly popular and has the potential to intertwine holidays with volunteer hours to maximize on paid time off. Employers can further incentivize by coordinating groups for discounted pricing with international volunteer abroad programs which maintain high ethical standards with raving reviews from previous volunteers — Maximo Nivel in Latin America includes options to work in sea turtle and wildlife conservation, sustainable agriculture, teaching English, working with kids, and more; Friends for Asia coordinates volunteer opportunities throughout Southeast Asia working with single mothers or children with HIV, assist in hospitals or orphanages, or donate skills in the healthcare sector; Volunteer4Africa has volunteer abroad opportunities in Africa working with the elderly, supporting children with disabilities, or assisting in youth education.
Gaining an in-depth understanding of employee passions, community needs, and skills-based volunteer opportunities is a vital component when implementing a corporate volunteer program that helps to boost employee skills and team development. At its foundation, volunteering promotes caring, learning, and growing–traits that are important for any aspect of life including personal, academic, and professional. When a company promotes and supports a cause important to their employees and customers, employee productivity increases, along with consumer perception, company morale, and overall company performance, making it a winning option for any business.
Written by: Shelly O. is an independent researcher and freelance writer with previous experience in Human Resources and Career Development.