How Volunteering Boosts Employee Engagement (And 3 Ways to Get Started)

This article was written by our friends at Real Thread.

The workforce is changing. As millennials (and even Gen Z’ers) are making up a larger part of the workforce, they’re bringing in a new set of values that they’re looking for in their employers. 

The stereotype for winning over this young group has been cool, quirky perks like kegs of beer, Nerf guns in the office, or $100k pandas, but studies are showing there’s a simpler, more effective solution: volunteering.

The Case for Corporate Volunteering

A 2018 report from Cascade shows that among a group of HR managers surveyed, nearly half of them said that employee engagement is their greatest challenge at work. 

We can see why it’s such a priority. Millennials have been labeled as “job-hoppers,” and for what looks like good reason. They’re more prone to view jobs as stepping stones before they’re on to the next role, leaving HR and People Ops Managers fighting to get their best young talent to stay. 

As more research piles in on what this generation of workers value, volunteer work is proving to be one surefire way to increase your chances of retaining talent.

According to Deloitte’s 2017 Volunteerism Survey:

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 (89%) working Americans believe that companies that sponsor volunteer events offer a better overall working environment than those that do not.
  • 70% of respondents say that volunteering is more likely to boost employee morale than a company-sponsored happy hour.
  • 77% say, “volunteering is essential to employee well-being.”

Those are really powerful numbers! If such a large percentage of the workforce values volunteerism and contributing to the greater good, how can you afford not to invest in it?

3 Ways Volunteering Boosts Employee Engagement

corporate volunteering

1. Productivity Among Teams

Volunteering gives your employees a chance to interact together, and work together towards a common goal. At work it’s easy to get stuck in a set way of doing things, so working on something new together can offer some fresh perspective for communicating and problem solving amongst teams.

2. Pride in Where You Work

You want your workers to feel proud of where they work. When people feel pride in their workplace, they’re going to be better employees. Not only will they produce great work, but they’ll be ambassadors for your organization, both internally and externally.

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This graphic from Deloitte states that employees who volunteer within their organization think more highly of their organization, and feel a greater sense of pride in where they work.

3. Increases Loyalty/Retention

Like we said, retention is one of the biggest challenges employers are facing with young talent. Volunteering is an excellent way to directly combat employee turnover, as employees who volunteer regularly are over 20% more likely to feel proud of the company they work for.

The cost benefit makes this investment well worth it, too. Julie Clugage, who runs Team4Tech, says in a Forbes interview that: “The cost benefit around recruitment and retention for the investment is cheap,” pointing to a study that says it costs $15,000 — $25,000 to replace a millennial employee. 

This small investment in volunteering can literally save you thousands of dollars per year. 

3 Quick Volunteer Ideas to Get You Started

corporate volunteering

1. Volunteer at a Nearby School

Schools almost always have a need for volunteers or mentors. Get in touch with a school in your area, and give your employees paid time off to go volunteer. Spending time reading with younger kids, or coming in and teaching about your industry to high schoolers is a great way to leave a positive impact in your community.

2. Have a Sandwich Making Station

This is actually something we just started doing here at Real Thread! We have a station equipped with sandwich materials and paper bags to hand them out in. This way, if anyone is walking down the street for coffee or a meeting, they can grab a bag with a sandwich, apple, and an encouraging note to give to someone who needs it.

It’s a relatively small gesture, but it meets a real, tangible need for people in our area. And it’s a great way to foster a culture of giving every day, rather than once or twice a year.

3. Organize Company-Wide Volunteer Days

Choose an organization in your area and spending a day, or even just a half day, sending your team over to help out. Places like Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, or a local food shelter can always use people, and have locations in almost every city. Or you can do something larger like organizing a company or team trip with our friends over at Have Fun Do Good. 

You can’t afford to slack on employee engagement anymore. To help keep your employees engaged, active, and proud of your organization, start volunteering! Call up an organization in your area, round up your team and get started.

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