If you’re currently working in a business that is looking for meaningful ways to do more for both the local community that you’re working in and the broader community, there are many ways that you can give back. Fundraising is generally the most talked about option, but many businesses are now looking to corporate volunteering and seeing the benefits for both the organisations they support and their staff. However, before looking at the benefits of volunteering, we must first ask ourselves what is corporate volunteering?
Corporate volunteering (also called employee volunteering) can be defined as workplace-based initiatives where employers provide support or encouragement for its employees to volunteer for the local community or good causes. Often these are aligned to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
What does that actually mean in reality though? In a broad sense, corporate volunteering is a way for businesses to contribute to the community. Companies often encourage their employees to volunteer by allowing paid time off which they use to volunteer at either a charity of their choice or one nominated by the employer. Increasingly, companies are turning to technology to add structure to the volunteering activities, and in a response to Covid-19 technology has also enabled digital volunteering in the form of projects which allow business skills to be deployed for the good cause.
More and more, both the corporate world and society as a whole are promoting the notion that employers are not only responsible for creating jobs and profits but should also be thinking about how their organisations affect society and the general public.
What are the benefits of corporate volunteering?
There are many benefits that result from giving employees the chance to volunteer – often for all three parties involved, the employer, the employee and the charitable cause.
- Skilled support for charities: Giving staff the opportunity to volunteer gives many charities access to highly skilled people that they may not have been able to get. With the right structure, charities can do so much more with your employees’ valuable time than get them to help with fundraising, whether it’s working with your marketers to improve their brand strategy or operational people to improve internal efficiencies.
- More engaged employees: the more employees are encouraged to volunteer, the more engaged they are within their place of work. This includes greater productivity, employee satisfaction and employees with higher morale. Employees whose employers implement volunteering programs are more engaged and report higher levels of both autonomy and support from their co-workers and supervisors.
- Employee skill and personal development: volunteering gives employees a fresh perspective and even more of a chance to grow. It gives them leadership and learning opportunities that may not have been readily available within the workplace. In addition to this, it allows them to work with different resources, new teams which in turn opens their eyes to different challenges and stimulates creativity.
- Employee satisfaction: having employees getting involved in socially constructive events can strengthen their bond with each other and within the company itself.
- Personal benefits for employees: volunteering can have some amazing personal benefits for employees. It can help employees break out of their comfort zone and gives them a meaningful way to use the skills they have gained in their work life to benefit a charity. This can be hugely effective in making employees feel valued and allows them to see just how important their skills are. Research has also shown that people who volunteer report lower levels of stress, higher self-confidence and reduced risk of depression, which is not just a benefit to employees but employers as well.
- Recruitment and retention: a stimulating environment can attract more applicants, and probably the best ones. An increasing number of companies are looking for employees who are proactive, energetic and dedicated self-starters. In order for modern organisations to compete effectively, they have to have employees who are not just talented in their fields but are also psychologically connected to their work and fully committed to their work and to achieving high standards of quality. An effective corporate volunteering programme helps to attract, engage, motivate and retain a motivated workforce.
- Strong appeal to the purpose generation: Millennials and Gen-Z are often referred to as the purpose generation. A name they have gained due to their commitment to changing the world and making it a better place. With the purpose generation growing in the workplace every year, we are seeing a shift towards a workforce that cares not just about take home pay, but also doing corporate good. This shift has made initiatives such as corporate volunteering vital for attracting and retaining highly skilled, socially conscious young employees. By providing a volunteering programme companies are both better aligned to employee values and allow employees to support causes they align themselves with.
As you can see, there are a whole host of benefits to providing employees with volunteering opportunities. The benefit perceived by workers who participate in them is that they do not feel that they are only part of an economic system but of an organisation that appreciates their value even from a human perspective, a company that takes an interest also in the community it belongs to. This increases the esteem employees have for the company and improves the culture, enabling companies to capitalise on the strengths and abilities of employees, helping them to become stronger and grow within the organisation.
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