How employee volunteer programs are good for business and employees

Employee volunteer programs can be a highly effective way to leverage employee skills and enthusiasm while making a difference in the community.

Here are the ways employee volunteer programs promote loyalty and purpose

According to the Deloitte Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, an employee’s level of satisfaction with their company’s commitment to societal impact, sustainability and diversity and inclusion can directly impact their loyalty to the organization.

The survey shows that 57% of Gen Z and 51% of Millennials are not satisfied with their organization’s societal impact. But it doesn’t need to be this way.

As employees are looking now more than ever to feel a sense of belonging within their organizations, employee volunteer programs can fulfill that desire. Volunteer programs allow employees to work with local and industry-adjacent communities, creating genuine camaraderie among employees while making a positive impact on everything from the neighborhood to the environment.

Employee volunteer programs are also good business, as 70% of employees said they believe that volunteer work is more likely to boost team morale than happy hours and 64% of millennials said they consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work.

In addition, volunteer programs give employees an opportunity to develop new professional and leadership skills while volunteering. They also give brands an opportunity to enhance their corporate purpose, raising awareness around brand values by demonstrating how they positively contribute to their communities.

Several well-known businesses have already established corporate volunteer programs and tapped into employee skill sets to make a difference.

Patagonia’s volunteer program helps employees support local and international environmental nonprofit groups Each year, employees organize a 5k community fun run to raise funds for local sustainability-minded nonprofits. In the past, the company has also sent employees to Patagonia in Chile to spend time supporting local sustainability projects on both small and large scales, including restoring a former sheep ranch and helping out at Chile’s newest national park. focuses on supporting environmental nonprofit groups, both locally and internationally. Each year, employees organize a 5k community fun run to raise funds for local sustainable nonprofits. In the past, they’ve also sent employees to Patagonia in Chile to spend time supporting the community by restoring a former sheep ranch and helping out at Chile’s newest national park.

IT company Nexthink aims to break down traditional barriers in the tech industry and reach young people to share the opportunities available to them through its corporate volunteering program. By implementing an all-in-one platform, the organization has been able to create a structured corporate volunteering policy that provides key volunteering opportunities to employees and doubles as career training.

Nexthink was able to organize 38 volunteering activities in the first year alone and saw 33 %  of employees active on the platform after only seven months.

The aforementioned companies offer distinct examples of how corporate volunteering programs can

If you want to make sure your employee volunteer program proves successful, here are a few best practices to follow.

  1. Build the program around your organization’s purpose. Why is volunteering or a specific initiative important to your company’s purpose and values? Prioritizing the purpose of this work will draw employees who are truly invested in your mission. Sixty-six percent of employees said that they considered their employer making a positive impact more important than before the pandemic,  while over 35 %t of employees say a company’s positive impact is among the top two most important attributes when deciding to stay or leave a job, according to a Purpose Under Pressure study.
  1. Innovate around business and employee needs. Effective volunteer programs are jointly designed around employee interests and the business goals and mission. They demonstrate how the programs offered to take action on what’s most important to an affected community and simultaneously do what’s best for business, employees, and those in need. The strongest programs go beyond the run-of-the-mill “trash day pickup”.
  2. Provide employees with options. If someone wants to volunteer it should, by definition, be their choice, not a company mandate. While pressuring employees isn’t the best route to get them interested, steps can still be taken to encourage engagement. . These can include paid time off for volunteering, communicating about volunteer opportunities, assigning leadership roles to the efforts, and more. Consider how painting a house or making a garden might be more labor intensive for some employees while handing out school supplies might be more their speed. You can also offer employees an opportunity to craft a volunteer outing of their own or survey them to get their simple suggestions and customize a program around those preferences.
  1. Give credit. Sharing the good work that your employees do in the world can uplift them, and inspire others as well. Comms pros might take this opportunity to share and amplify their employer value proposition as part of employer brand communications. When volunteer opportunities give employees a sense of purpose and promote well-being, highlighting those wins can showcase your company culture to external audiences. Employers give credit for the work of employees and their involvement externally or internally, they should always get consent first.

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