16
May

Volunteerism and its Influence on Employee Engagement

By Sonja Elcic

Volunteerism Impacts Employee Engagement

When was the last time your organization came together to volunteer?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 63 million people volunteered through or for an organization between September 2014 and 2015. This is encouraging, but it also indicates there are plenty of companies missing out on the benefits of employee volunteer programs.

At Satrix Solutions, we’ve made it our purpose to support causes we feel strongly about, and I’m extremely proud to be the person who arranges these community service events.

Just a few months ago, we participated in packaging emergency food boxes for St. Mary’s Food Bank. The team also recently attended a Gala to support Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence.

Satrix Team Thrive Gala 2017

The Satrix Team at the 7th Annual Thrive Gala 

On a personal level, taking part in these activities has been highly rewarding. From an employee perspective, it’s given me a greater sense of pride for my company and colleagues.

But this is just one of many reasons why supporting volunteerism in the workforce is important for businesses. Why else should your company consider developing a formal volunteering program?

Business Benefits of Employee Volunteering

Studies show that increased employee engagement is one of the top three benefits of supporting formal volunteer programs.

And, close to 90 percent of companies that measure the connection between on-the-job volunteering and employee engagement found a positive correlation between employee participation in these programs and higher employee engagement scores.

Based on my personal experience, I can confidently say that I’m more engaged than at previous companies with no volunteer programs.

Volunteering alongside my colleagues has also created a more cohesive team. We’re working together in new ways and it’s providing new experiences to learn about each other outside the walls of the workplace.

I’m not alone. In UnitedHealth Group’s 2013 Health and Volunteering Study, 64 percent of employees said that volunteering with work colleagues strengthened relationships.

While this is great news for the company’s employee retention and bottom line, it’s also important to remember that you’re building personal and rewarding relationships with your community.

Establishing an Employee Volunteer Program

Establishing an employee volunteer program has long-lasting benefits. Before you jump in, you’ll need to think about how you’ll structure and scale your volunteer program. Factors I recommend you consider include:

  • Will you be offering paid time off to employees so they may give their time to causes that are most important to them?
  • Does your company wish to offer pro bono services or want to focus on hands-on volunteering?
  • How many volunteer activities will you allocate to public programs, visitor services, behind-the-scenes activities, fundraising events, and community outreach?
  • What roles do you foresee volunteers playing?
  • What fiscal resources are available to your volunteer program?
  • Have you considered partnership opportunities with a nonprofit organization?
  • How will you advertise your volunteer program to your employees?

If a formal, hands-on volunteer program isn’t possible for your organization due to limited resources, you may want to consider a friendly canned food drive competition, with a small reward to the winning team. Whether the reward is simply bragging rights or a gift card, it creates cohesion and comradery among employees.

Foster a Meaningful Work Environment

You know that employees bring a lot of value to your organization. Show them your company cares by taking the initiative to enhance their work experience. Give employees the opportunity and motivation to volunteer individually or as part of the team. You’ll be rewarded with:

  • Higher employee engagement and stronger teamwork productivity.
  • Increased pride, commitment, and loyalty among employees for the organization.
  • Inspired and reenergized employees who are more likely to refer your organization to others.
  • A more favorable corporate reputation.
  • Improved corporate visibility within your community and industry.

Higher retention, improved morale, increased satisfaction and engagement, volunteerism in the workplace offers many advantages for companies looking to build more positive relationships with employees and the community.

So, what is holding your organization back?