Community Rent: How Volunteerism Betters the Employee Experience
One of my first jobs actually required participation in a community service group. Since then, I’m always amazed to hear about other companies who’ve instated similar practices—and what that’s done to further employee engagement. You see, volunteerism has a fairly large impact on employee engagement, and that’s true for a number of reasons.
Coworkers who volunteer together gain a sense of cohesiveness that improves the quality of their teamwork. It also offers them the chance to learn more about one another on a personal level that just can’t be achieve while everyone is at work.
Creating an employee volunteer program
There are some important questions to answer before you jump in to developing an employee volunteer program. This list isn’t comprehensive, but it gives you a good place to start considering how you want volunteerism to be handled at work:
- Will the program be mandatory?
- What resources do you have available for the volunteer program?
- Are you going to provide employees with paid time off to volunteer? (hint, hint – if it’s mandatory…)
- Is your company more interested in offering their services “pro bono” or would you rather focus on hands-on volunteer work?
- How will you advertise and share information about the volunteer program with your employees?
- Have you considered partnering with nonprofit groups to broaden your organization’s ability to perform volunteer or charity work, like the United Way Day of Caring?
- Will employees have the opportunity to volunteer individually and/or as a team?
Establishing a volunteer program can have lasting benefits for your organization and its employees, so make sure you consider the structure and scale of the program carefully. You want to make volunteering easy, especially if it’s something you want to implement companywide.
Volunteerism creates a more meaningful work environment
It’s probably safe to say you already know that your employees bring a great deal of value to your company. By enhancing their work experience through volunteerism, you’re fostering a work environment with meaning that goes beyond the day-to-day grind. Give your employees the encouragement and opportunity to volunteer and you’ll see the results in no time.
Common benefits include higher employee engagement and stronger team-based productivity; an increase in company pride and commitment; and, better corporate reputation and enhanced corporate visibility in the community and your industry. There’s also the matter of higher retention rate, improvements to morale, satisfaction, and engagement. It’s a simple fact that employees who feel engaged are more productive and feel more positively about their roles at work.
Believe it or not, you can benefit formal volunteer programs by improving your own employee engagement through something like a volunteer program!
Employees further develop their skills through workplace volunteer programs
When employees volunteer, they gain an outlet for sharing their existing talents as well as honing new ones, like leadership skills. In fact, you could look at volunteer work as free leadership training. Most of the skills you’ll pick up while volunteering can benefit employees at home or at the office, such as the ability to work as part of a team, leadership, planning and prioritizing work, report writing, time management, interpersonal skills, etc.
You’re not just giving employees the opportunity to contribute to their community and the causes dearest to them; you’re also taking an active part in helping them develop their skillsets. Is it any wonder volunteerism has such an obvious impact on employee engagement?
Supporting volunteerism among employees is a multifaceted solution to remedying engagement woes. You’re further developing the sense of community at the office while giving everyone the opportunity to support the greater community, beyond the workplace. There are numerous essential skills one can pick up and hone while doing volunteer work, and all of them can make employees better at their job and more well-rounded as individuals.
When someone experiences #DramaFreeHR at their place of employment, they’ll start to realize that the company is more than just a paycheck—it’s also an opportunity for personal growth. As you think about the various benefits of starting your own volunteer program, ask yourself this:
What community service experiences have you learned from?