These days, customers, communities, and employees expect a lot out of corporations. Rather than just being content with corporate leaders providing a service or product, people are increasingly interested in engaging with businesses that work to make a positive impact. Indeed, if your only goal is raking in revenue, you’re likely pushing away potential employees and customers.
It’s a reality that has sparked a trend in corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and strategies among large enterprises and businesses of all sizes. To achieve CSR, many organizations choose corporate volunteerism as an active and engaging option. And as we’ve seen, it works. Corporate volunteer programs are a great way to empower employees, while giving back to the community.
Let’s roll through the many reasons why employee volunteer programs are a smart investment, and not the time drain or distraction that some corporate thought leaders might fear.
Why Invest In Corporate Volunteerism
When examining the reasons for corporate volunteerism, it’s hard to imagine anyone coming up with a salient argument against such efforts. First and foremost, the company itself benefits greatly by inspiring good social capital, as well as a more engaged collection of employees. Speaking of employees, they benefit from a boosted morale while working under a purpose-driven initiative.
Finally, there’s the intended community or specific group benefiting from the volunteer mission itself. Whether it’s the blind and low-vision community, LGBTQ+ organizations, or a food pantry, charitable concerns often rely on corporate social responsibility for funds, volunteers, and general assistance in day-to-day tasks. It’s a win-win scenario all around.
Here are the top five benefits that make employee volunteer programs worthwhile for corporations.
1. Boosts Morale & Engages Employees
No matter how exciting or dynamic you think your corporation is, there’s a good chance your employees will eventually hit that proverbial wall. Work piles up, stress gets the better of them, and before you know it, your employees are disengaged and not performing at their full potential. When this happens, a corporate volunteer program can serve to re-engage employees in the workplace and boost morale.
According to a 2017 volunteerism survey, 70 percent of working Americans said that volunteer activities are more likely to boost employee morale than company-sponsored happy hours. In the same survey, 89 percent of respondents said companies who sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall working environment than those who do not.
2. Improves Employee Mental & Physical Health
The boost in morale from corporate volunteerism not only contributes to a better workplace atmosphere, but it also psychologically benefits employees. Volunteering is associated with reducing anxiety, depression, and stress, with the added perk of increasing self-worth and self-confidence. And, somewhat remarkably, one study found that adults who volunteer on a regular basis are physically healthier than those who don’t volunteer.
What’s more, employees who volunteer spend more time socially interacting with others, building a healthy support system based on shared interests. This not only establishes kinship with new friends, but also strengthens existing relationships and expands each employee's social network—which can lead to new opportunities for corporate recruitment.
3. Bolsters Recruitment & Retention
Now more than ever, job seekers are in pursuit of employment opportunities with organizations that demonstrate social responsibility in meaningful ways. Gone are the days when a single social media post marking an important date or the plight of a particular group of people would suffice. The next generation of corporate employees want to see real action and an even greater emphasis on CSR.
And that all bears out in the statistics. According to an employee engagement survey, 75 percent said they would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company, while 83 percent said they would be more loyal to a company that contributes to social and environmental issues.
4. Builds A Strong Brand
Companies that demonstrate social awareness through employee volunteer programs enhance their brand image. Sponsoring actionable initiatives among your employees humanizes your company, showing the world you’re more than a static logo that’s cloistered in an office building, away from the real world.
Getting out and into the community under a volunteer program helps the public see your corporation in a positive light. When they see your name, they won’t merely think of your products or services, but also all the good you do.
5. Contributes To Employee Development
Employee volunteer programs naturally bring people together, inspiring your team members to work collaboratively toward a shared goal. Whether they’re working together to tackle community issues or collectively volunteering their time for a good cause, employees who engage in these programs are actually exercising their problem-solving skills and workplace adaptability without even knowing it.
Workplace professionals develop leadership skills as a result of their volunteer experience, as it often involves leading a group of peers. Among your team of employees, a leader will emerge because the situation calls for it. Those that possess this gift are a valuable asset in any professional setting, and an employee volunteer program is often the impetus for such a talent to step forward.
How It All Adds Up
When you kick off an employee volunteer program, you’re telling your team you care about their mental state and that you share in their desire to make the world a better place. But more than that, these programs open the door to new opportunities in recruitment, while also placing your corporation in a positive light. It all adds up to happier employees, satisfied customers, and, hopefully, more robust revenue.