Employees and employers who establish a volunteer culture at work earn a host of benefits. The Deloitte “2017 Volunteerism Survey” of American workers discovered that volunteerism culture could boost:
- Brand perception
- Workplace atmosphere.
But those surveyed said they didn’t see volunteerism as a way to climb the corporate ladder as the sole motivation to participate. The study found American workers believe that companies sponsoring volunteer opportunities had a better working environment overall than ones that didn’t.
Of the respondents, 70 percent said volunteer activities would improve employee morale over sponsoring a company happy hour, with 77 percent believing that volunteering is necessary to developing employee well-being. Only 38 percent of respondents’ employers offer access to coordinated or company-sponsored volunteer programs. Sixty-nine percent say they’d like to volunteer more, and 62 percent state they can’t volunteer during the day due to time constraints.
Many employees place value on volunteering and want to contribute more but feel they’re not given access to programs or resources to do their part. Employers stand to benefit from giving access to volunteer programs and nurturing a volunteer culture to boost morale — especially when employee volunteers understand how they impact their community. For example, 75 percent of millennials would volunteer more frequently if they saw their true impact on the world around them.
Creating a Culture of Volunteer Engagement
Does your company already share a set of goals, beliefs and values that focus on the importance of giving back to the community or reflect social consciousness? List these goals and values on your company website or in your policies to reflect the importance of volunteer engagement and how your company participates.
Why does volunteerism matter to your company? How does it directly reflect your company’s mission statement? Goals should include involving volunteers in work that’s meaningful and mission critical. Each employee has unique skills and passions suited for just as unique volunteer work, and the company should strive to find the right fit for each employee.
To create a culture of eager volunteers, employers must provide access to and cultivate opportunities to learn and contribute. Open lines of communication help clients, paid staff and volunteers to stay on task and balance volunteering with work.
Establishing and Measuring Volunteer Culture
Employees must buy into a volunteer culture to participate and acknowledge its importance. Are employees onboard? Conduct surveys and meetings to gauge interest and learn what volunteerism paths employees wish to explore.
Putting everything down in writing clears up unwritten rules about what employees think it means to volunteer, such as questions like:
- Will the company partner with a particular service organization or set of programs?
- Are the consequences of not completing work and volunteer duties clearly outlined in company volunteer policies?
- Are employees allowed paid off time to volunteer once the company has vetted the volunteer program and has a set number of hours arranged?
For example, Novo Nordisk offers 80 total hours of paid time off for volunteering as an incentive, and in 2014, the company launched “Changing Our Communities” to monitor and assist employees with finding volunteer opportunities. With every submitted project, Novo Nordisk donates money in a team’s or individual’s name to a signature partner organization.
Educate Employees on the Benefits of Volunteering
Help volunteers to understand how volunteer culture engages, empowers and depends on them. Whether working solo or as a company volunteer team, employees develop skills and relationships outside the office they’ll bring back to their work efforts. Employees create new bonds with each other as they work to solve a new task.
Use Your Skills and Your Office to Help Give Back
Help those less fortunate or in need by using your industry skills. For example, 23.3 percent of lawyers volunteer their time on a pro-bono basis, utilizing organizations like H.E.L.P. to be matched with homeless individuals who need legal representation or support. Legal clinics are set up for the homeless, and lawyers volunteer their time within these clinics. Legal clinics can also be set up at charities or colleges. What specialized skills can your company offer the community?
Employees don’t necessarily have to leave the office to volunteer unless it’s a part of the volunteer plan. Volunteer clinics may be set up at the office on certain days out of the month, for example. The company could partner with student interns to offer their unique skills from within the company walls and out in the community.
Measure volunteer culture by telling stories of impact, how employees have helped the community or someone’s life and been affected in return. Stories with a moral reinforce and develop company policies on volunteerism. Discussion groups, surveys and gatherings provide opportunities to listen to feedback and gauge where the company is with cultivating volunteer culture.
Keep Trying to Find the Right Balance
Establishing a thriving volunteer culture overnight isn’t expected. It may be a process of trial and error to find the right volunteerism fit for employees, but the rewards are plentiful. Establishing a volunteer culture at the office helps to boost employee morale and work culture while making the company more present and visible within the community.