Employee Engagement: Where do Volunteer Programs Factor In?

With long work hours and the likelihood for a mid-career change, keeping modern employees engaged with their jobs can be difficult.  Studies of the workplace have shown engaged employees are more likely to be committed to their work and make positive contributions to the organization.

With the statistics supporting the argument, it’s no secret that engaged employees are overall happier and mentally healthier.  So, in turn, it’s no surprise that employee volunteer programs are an excellent and low-cost way to engage and retain employees.


Here’s why.

According to a community involvement study, nearly 90 percent of companies found a positive correlation between employee participation in the volunteer programs and higher employee engagement scores.

Volunteering alongside colleagues has a range of benefits.  It builds camaraderie, strengthens relationships, builds a more cohesive team, and fosters a meaningful working environment.


Establishing an employee volunteer program

Before company leaders implement community-based programs as a pillar of their mission statement, they’ll want to determine how to structure them. For instance, will they offer paid time off to employees so they can devote more time to a cause?  Will the company offer hands-on volunteer opportunities or focus on pro bono services instead?

These and other factors need to be well-thought-out before moving forward with establishing employee volunteer programs.

Chicago executive Thomas Kane suggests that even if limited resources are a factor blocking an organization from starting a hands-on program, there are still ways to get involved.

“If it’s around the holidays, you could consider a toy drive competition with a small reward given to the winning team.  Another option to consider is conducting a company food drive.  Whatever way you choose to give back, the true reward is it creates camaraderie among employees,” says Tom Kane.


Foster a meaningful work environment

When integrated with a company’s business goals, involving employees in a mix of volunteer opportunities and giving programs foster a meaningful work environment and gives employees a chance to connect with their community.  If company leaders give their team the motivation to volunteer, they’ll be rewarded with higher engagement and productivity, an increased sense of pride and loyalty among employees. Employees who are engaged may also feel empowered to refer the organization to others which gives you a more favorable reputation within your industry.

“Every individual needs to feel a sense of ‘I matter,’ that showing up every day makes a difference,” says CEO Bill Donoghue. “They want to feel proud of the work their organizations do.”

With favorable outcomes like improved morale, higher retention rates, and increased engagement, volunteerism in the workplace offers many advantages if your company is looking to build a relationship with employees and the community that surrounds them.

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