How Does Volunteering Affect Employee Engagement?

As the holiday season creeps upon us we’ll see more and more people lending their time to the community. Did you know that in 2013, 28% of Michiganders volunteered totalling in at 253.7 million hours of service. Imagine how much larger this figure could be if companies encouraged volunteering in the workplace. While some companies have a corporate volunteer policy, it is still a rarity. Having a philanthropy program in place is a great way to increase employee engagement, retain top talent, and give employees a way to connect with their community. 

Instant Rewards

When you volunteer as a company you do more than just improve the community in which you live; you enrich the lives of the employees who served. Volunteering is a highly underrated engagement tool. According to Forbes, 81% of employees who volunteered together stated that the act of volunteering with their colleagues strengthened their interpersonal relationships. As an added bonus, 87% of people who volunteered in the last year said that through volunteering they developed teamwork and people skills. As more and more millennials enter the workforce I’m sure we’ll see more of a demand for workplace volunteer programs. 

Every year Dominion volunteers with Habitat For Humanity of Kent County. This has become sort of a tradition, and something many employees look forward to. Having the ability to make a real impact in our own backyard (so to speak) is such a rewarding experience. If you are looking for a great cause to donate your time to I highly recommend looking into your local Habitat For Humanity. You can find more information here.

Strengthen Bonds

If you can’t expense the manpower to send employees out to volunteer during work hours there is an alternative; Collecting donations (and matching those donations) for charity is also a great way to get employees involved in community outreach. One really cool thing we did here at Dominion was we designated Thursdays to be “Dominion Day” - every employee was encouraged to wear a Dominion shirt and if you didn’t you had to pay a dollar to charity. Of course employees were still able to pay even if they did wear their Dominion gear. And why not, it goes for a great cause! 

Deepened Purpose

Even if you have an employee who is extremely happy at their job they may need an occasional ‘pick-me-up’. Truth is we all get burnt out and there are many ways to recharge; sometimes we take vacation, sometimes we get a bonus that reminds us why we work so hard, and sometimes (if you’re lucky) your company has a super cool volunteer policy. This is just another way to remind employees why they chose your company in the first place. Show them they are valued and they will feel valued - it is as simple as that. 

Does your company have a volunteer program in place? If so, what are some events you’ve donated your time to together? 

[1] Fast Company
[2] Volunteering in America