Make a Difference Day, which is celebrated on October 26th this year, is dedicated to charitable activities that give back to our communities.
Businesses can benefit from establishing corporate volunteer programs for their employees. They are a great way to foster community and team bonding while boosting employee engagement and productivity. Volunteering has also been linked to stress relief and improved work and leadership skills among employees.
Despite its evident value, nearly half of Deloitte’s 2016 Impact Survey respondents reported that their company does not offer a volunteer program. The same survey found that more than 80 percent of respondents agree that volunteering improves employees’ professional skills, like communications, leadership capabilities, accountability, and commitment.
Here are more ways as to how a company-wide volunteering program could benefit your company:
A Sense of Purpose
A University of Georgia study found that those who volunteer were more productive and satisfied at work, which is largely attributed to these employees finding a greater sense of purpose through charitable work. Once that sense of purpose is discovered, it functions similarly to endorphins one gets from working out, in that, “you would get a taste for it and you would want to do more, which could cause an increase in performance,” according to Jessica Rodell, the study’s author.
This thirst for purpose is especially present among millennials, who currently make up the biggest percentage of the workforce. Millennials prefer working for companies that care about their impact on the world beyond profits and shareholders’ value. The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that those who share values with their organization are more likely to stay with their organizations longer.
Recently we’ve talked about how workplace friendships boost employee job satisfaction, creativity, and motivation. One way to help forge such connections is through team-based volunteering outings, where the whole team engages in volunteer work together. United Health’s 2013 Health and Volunteering Study found that 64 percent of employees who volunteer said that sharing these activities with coworkers strengthened their relationships. Volunteering helps employees get to know each other and encourages camaraderie between employees and supervisors. It’s a great way for the team to interact and work together without the pressure of deadlines and corporate hierarchies.
Healthy Employees, Healthy Business
It's no secret that stress takes a toll on employees’ wellbeing and hurts work. 78 percent of those who had volunteered within 12 months of the study said that volunteering lowered their stress levels. The study also found that those who volunteer report feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally healthier.
Beyond the clear health benefits to employees, employers find that those who volunteer are more engaged and have important work and “people” skills. Relationship-building skills and the ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds or with different perspectives directly benefit employers. They not only improve team dynamics and cross-departmental collaboration but can improve customer service quality and product innovation.
Bottom line: corporate volunteer programs are a win-win-win for society, employees and employers.