Benefits for businesses

Volunteering at Work: What's the bottom line?
by Sarah Hayden
Vice President, Marketing & Communications, United Way of Greater Stark County
Feb. 29, 2012

Human Resources personnel know engaging employees and supporting volunteerism is an important part of corporate social responsibility efforts and this trend is growing. According to a report published by the Points of Light Foundation in Washington, DC, "research findings are steadily piling up in support of the concept that volunteer service supports workplace skill development." The report contends the  strongest professional development potential from employee volunteering revolves around skill development, recruitment, morale and retention, and teamwork.

Volunteering offers unique opportunities involving skill sets not always available within day-to-day work. For instance, a volunteer might become engaged in event management volunteer opportunities when normally they perform data tasks on the job. By volunteering, they get the opportunity to practice people skills and learn new ways to manage and organize. Participation helps employees develop these new skills and leverage current skill sets, too.

Recruiting talent today has management looking at the comprehensive workplace environment offered to potential recruits. Younger workers prefer environments that place an emphasis on social responsibility and expect employers to embrace community support. According to Anita Bruzze's blog post on "Volunteerism: The Key to Recruiting Young Workers?," she notes survey results at Deloitte found "when young workers volunteer, they are twice as likely to say their corporate culture is very positive, are more likely to be proud of their work at their company, are more likely to feel loyal to their employer, and are more likely to recommend their organization to a friend."

The Points of Light report notes companies nationwide have embraced the idea that workers "whose employers support employee engagement, experience greater workplace satisfaction." Morale and retention are key management concerns that can be directly addressed by providing workplace volunteer experiences. The report also points to an Aetna employee survey that found "employees who participated in volunteer events were more likely to rate Aetna as a 'good place to work'."

A natural expectation is that improved teambuilding is a benefit of volunteering with work colleagues. Many companies embrace this kind of volunteering and participate in community days of volunteering. The company benefits twice from volunteering by practicing team building and providing  a venue to support employee morale, plus improving community visibility of the company.

When volunteerism is positioned favorably among management priorities, employee volunteering can benefit the bottom line. Developing employees and teamwork, and increasing morale and retention benefit directly from enhanced business operations. In addition, employee volunteerism can increase public awareness of the company. According to Mei Cobb, vice president of Volunteer & Employee Engagement at United Way Worldwide, a study done by the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College and Business Civic Leadership Center revealed "64% of executives surveyed say that corporate citizenship produces a tangible contribution to the company bottom line" and "among executives at large companies, 84% see direct bottom-line benefits."

Who better to make a better place to live, than people working in our community! To find out more about volunteering at all kinds of nonprofits in Stark County, visit the Volunteer Resource Center at www.uwstark.org/volunteer. Your one stop for all volunteering in Stark County.

Sources:

Anita Bruzze. "Volunteerism: The Key to Recruiting Young Workers?." July 14, 2011. http://onthejob.45things.com/2011/07/volunteerism-key-to-recruiting-youn... Accessed Feb. 28, 2012.

Mei Cobb. "Benefits of Employee Volunteer Programs." Alexandria: VA, United Way Worldwide, 2009.

Points of Light Foundation.  A Summary of the Current State of Knowledge: Using Employee Volunteering to Benefit HR Department. Washington: DC, Points of Light Foundation, 2006.

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