Employee volunteerism is a company-supported initiative that allows employees to volunteer their time and resources to the community and get paid for it.
According to a survey by American Charities, 71% of employees say it’s important to work where culture is supportive of giving and volunteering, so it’s not surprising that employee volunteerism is on the rise among workplaces. In fact, 47% of U.S. companies offered community volunteer programs in 2018, up from 40% in 2014, according to Harvard Business Review.
Gen Z leads the pack of generations at work that love to volunteer. A little over 26% of Gen Zers already volunteer regularly, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their top career motivations were learning opportunities, increased value and improved self-esteem. So naturally, many Gen Z volunteers see the value in employee volunteerism—especially when their employer pays them for it.
There are several ways to design an employee volunteer program and encourage people to participate, so let’s dig into how employee volunteerism improves firm culture, its benefits, and how to get started.
How employee volunteerism improves firm culture
Employee volunteerism programs aren’t just great for employees—they also benefit the entire culture of the firm and may be the key to recruitment and retention of the best talent.
Having a formal volunteer program for employees to participate in allows businesses to embrace their corporate social responsibility while sharing that responsibility with their employees, boosting their appeal to employees, customers and investors.
Employee volunteerism can help create a positive work environment while boosting your overall company image. Additionally, it shows employees how much you care about your social responsibility when you pay them for their volunteer time. When you do this, you are directly showing them their value goes beyond their time spent on work for the company—you want them to be a part of that overall image.
The way employee volunteerism drives the overall culture improvements at a firm goes much deeper, though. It also helps with engaging new employees and helps them form long-term partnerships through team building and communication that might even go beyond their day-to-day work relationships. It also helps employees develop leadership skills, benefiting the firm as a whole.
These are the makings of a great company culture. Happy employees equal happy clients, and fostering a workplace culture that supports volunteering employers can enhance employee morale, improve the office environment and positively impact the firm’s brand.
Benefits of volunteering for employees
Many employees struggle to find the time to volunteer on their own. When their employer provides them with these opportunities to make a difference in the community on company time, they feel more motivated. Not only that, but it also helps them to connect with coworkers outside of work, improve their social skills and increase their self-confidence. I can also give them a sense of purpose, which helps combat anxiety and depression.
In the constant struggle for a balance between work, life and mental health, employee volunteerism is the ultimate win-win for employers and employees.
How to get started with employee volunteerism in your firm
There are several ways to get started with employee volunteerism in your firm.
First, decide what your employee volunteerism program will look like and how it will operate. Some examples at other companies include:
A set number of paid time off “volunteer days” each year. This model is the most popular among employees and larger companies. For example, Mastercard provides employees five days of volunteer days each year, which is paid for by the employer. Employees can use these days all at once, one at a time, a few at a time or used for employer-sponsored volunteer trips.
Offer gifts for volunteering milestones in addition to PTO days for volunteer time off. Verizon offers a gift of $750 for every 50 hours of volunteer work completed by Verizon employees in addition to PTO for volunteering.
Donations for volunteer time in addition to PTO days for volunteer time off. Microsoft offers paid time off for volunteering and a $25 donation to the employee’s non-profit organization of choice for every volunteer hour as part of the company’s grant program.
Company-wide or department-wide volunteer events. Nexthink offers volunteer time off that’s paid for but with a different twist. They like to engage employees in volunteering with company-wide and department-wide volunteer events.
Volunteer trips. Volunteer trips are something that companies will usually offer within their paid-for volunteer time off benefit. For instance, Mastercard provides a few opportunities for employees to go on volunteer trips throughout the year, and employees can use their volunteering PTO for those trips.
Once you select a program structure and budget, determine the best way to engage employees to participate in the program. This could include an internal marketing campaign with a series of workshops and endorsements from firm leaders.
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As a Project Coordinator for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Katelynn is excited to work with a company that prioritizes allyship, cultural awareness and inclusion. Her primary focus is supporting Boomer Consulting’s Project Managers and handling events at the Accounting Innovation Center.