Employee volunteerism can have a big impact

Many employees want to be able to donate their time to causes they care about, but with busy lives and a host of obligations, finding that time is sometimes difficult. Company-sponsored volunteer activities can go a long way in helping employees pursue their goals to give back while making a positive difference in the communities where we live and work.

But did you know that programs to encourage employee volunteerism can also strengthen your company’s ability to attract and retain talent?

For example, when employees have the opportunity to volunteer together, they often feel more connected to their companies and coworkers through shared values. In fact, a study found that the number one reason employees take part in workplace giving opportunities is that “it makes work more meaningful.”1 This can in turn lead to greater job satisfaction and ultimately workforce retention.

The number 1 reason employees take part in workplace giving opportunities is that it makes work more meaningful. Footnote 1

Whether and how your company supports local and national causes can also shape perceptions of those outside the company, including customers, shareholders, community members—and potential new hires. While this is true for people of all ages, millennials in particular consider a company’s corporate work culture, involvement with causes, diversity and office environment in addition to compensation and benefits when deciding to take a job.2

Ways to champion volunteerism in the workplace

With National Volunteer Week around the corner, April 7–13, it’s a good time to consider how to engage your employees in volunteer activities. Following are some ideas to get your workforce involved:

Volunteer Day activities. Companies sometimes sponsor days on which volunteer activities have been pre-arranged in the communities they serve. Paid time away from the office is often an added benefit to the service, as is the chance for employees to connect with one another and the community in a meaningful way.
Time off to serve. Some companies may allow employees to step outside of the programs and opportunities planned at the corporate level and receive paid time off to serve at the charity of their choice, on their schedule. Time off policies can range from an hour a month up to several days per year.
Pro-bono service donations. Companies are increasingly eager to offer the services of willing employees at no cost to help where they’re needed. This is a win-win situation in which employees get to serve while being paid and a charity benefits from the expertise of highly-trained workers.
Matching time with monetary contributions. Some workplace programs allow employees—either individually or as a team—to volunteer time for a favorite cause with the employer matching their volunteer hours with a financial donation.
Monetary support. With busy lives, many may find donating their time challenging but still want to do something within their means to help. Giving through automatic payroll contributions is often an easy and convenient way for employees to contribute to a favorite charity. Some companies match charitable donations made by employees throughout the year, maximizing the amount of money going to worthy causes.

1 Macquarie School of Management, Corporate Volunteering: Connecting People, Participation & Performance, 2013.

2 “New Report on Millennials Shows Link Between Engagement and Cause Work,” Forbes, May 5, 2015.