What are your thoughts on employee volunteer programmes? Are we already too busy or does giving back make us feel better and allow us to support our communities? It’s often easier for us to donate money to support a needy cause and, whilst this is admirable and very needed, our time is our most precious resource.
Volunteering has been shown to make us feel happier and healthier. Actionforhappiness.org writes ‘that science shows that we can get as much out of volunteering as the people we are giving our time for or to. When we give to others it activates the areas of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection and trust. Altruistic behaviour releases endorphins in the brain and boosts happiness for us as well as the people we help.’
Groups that offer a structured volunteer programme report that employees feel more satisfied and motivated, and volunteer programmes even help with retention, and employee attrition is something that keeps many Human Resource leaders awake at night around the world. Such programmes do need to be carefully thought through, we know that many employees feel overstretched so managing a volunteer strategy empathetically is important.
Companies are discovering that, when they integrate volunteer programmes with their corporate social responsibility initiatives, it’s good for their business. People like to do business with companies that are seen as being good corporate citizens. The key is to have a strategic focus to a volunteer plan to make it effective, impactful and sustainable. A shared cause means employees can really see the difference both they, and the organization they work for, are having.
As well as having a social impact on communities and really making a difference, a vibrant Employee Volunteer Programme can help increase your company’s reputation. According to a McKinsey Global Survey, CFOs, investment professionals, and Corporate Social Responsibility professionals agree that maintaining a good corporate reputation or brand equity is the most important way that volunteer programmes create value. Measure the impact both on your employees and the partners you are working with for the volunteer programme and share the findings.
Maybe instead of a Corporate Social Responsibility programme it’s time we repositioned CSR as Corporate Citizenship and involve our employees, both in the planning and the doing so we create real social change for all involved?