People First HR Services

Everyone wins when volunteering is part of the job

Colleen Coates

Studies suggest that the company that volunteers together not only stays together, but outperforms the rest.

Whether building houses, preparing hot meals or delivering hampers, volunteering as a team makes a difference in the community, but also enhances employee engagement and boosts the profile of the company. One recent report stated that 64 per cent of executives see how corporate citizenship has made a direct and positive impact on their bottom line.

According to the 2010 Deloitte Volunteer Impact survey, more than eight in 10 companies believe that volunteerism can help non-profits accomplish long-term social goals. An even greater number of corporate leaders agree that lending employees’ skills would be valuable to a non-profit organization. In fact, you could say that volunteering is a win-win-win situation:

Benefits for the company:

— Fosters good relationships between the organization and the community.

— Builds the company’s brand as an employer of choice and strengthens its position with customers as a caring organization.

— Encourages a spirit of teamwork and cohesiveness across departments.

Benefits for employees:

— Provides the time and the means to contribute to the community.

— Cultivates an appreciation of community issues as well as loyalty toward their employer.

— Promotes skill development and leadership training.

Benefits for the community:

— Fills a vital need for skilled, talented and committed volunteers.

— Helps bring the needs of the non-profit organization into focus within the business community, which can generate contributions that are able to make a quantifiable impact.

Companies should also note that encouraging employees to volunteer also scores points when it comes to recruiting and retaining employees between the ages of 18 and 30. A survey by Deloitte said that 62 per cent of respondents in this age group said they prefer working for companies that give them the opportunity to contribute their time and talent in the community during work hours.

Not surprisingly, similar reports reveal that younger employees who participate in workplace volunteer activities are more likely to be proud, loyal and satisfied compared to those who rarely or never volunteer. It’s apparent that employees see the link between community volunteering and a positive corporate culture — all the more reason to put a formal workplace volunteering program into place.

Ways to ensure your program is successful:

Partner with community agencies. Where possible, work with agencies that are eager to form partnerships with companies and have the know-how to create manageable and measurable volunteer programs that are effective for everyone involved. Forming longer-term relationships also helps you to better understand their “big picture” needs and goals.

Communicate your views. As the corporate leader, the CEO should set the tone and reinforce the importance of volunteering by sending a memo to employees expressing his or her views on the value of participating in community endeavours and highlighting the ways they personally give back in a similarly meaningful way.

Point out the opportunities. Utilize your in-house communication tools — newsletters, e-memos and bulletin boards — to publicize volunteer initiatives to employees, ensuring they understand that you are encouraging them to take part in local activities.

Pat your people on the back. Volunteers don’t get financial incentives, but these heroes can be richly rewarded in other ways. Send personal notes of thanks to employees, include letters of commendation in employee files, and recognize volunteers at a special luncheon or by giving out awards for outstanding efforts in the community.

Toot your horn. Show the world how proud you are of your people by issuing a media release, featuring them in internal communications from videos to newsletters, and letting customers know what your people are doing (you might also consider inviting them to join your team to volunteer for a day).

Connecting your volunteer program to your workplace culture and your core business objectives as well as to your corporate social responsibility agenda will make it meaningful and sustainable. As most leaders know, when you encourage your staff to make a difference, the final results always offset the investment, ensuring that your employees, company and community all stand to benefit.

— With reporting by Barbara Chabai

 

Colleen Coates, CHRP, CCP, is a practice leader with People First HR Services Ltd. She can be contacted at ccoates@peoplefirsthr.com.

 

RESEARCH:

http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_US/us/About/Community-Involvement/89e8d24a1aa48210VgnVCM200000bb42f00aRCRD.htm

http://www.workopolis.com/work.aspx?actionTransfer&ViewContent/Common/ArticlesDetailView&langEN&articleIdsr20070222File1Article1

http://www.volunteermatch.org/corporations/resources/businesscase.jsp

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 4, 2012 H2