By Robert Jones, chief financial officer at StayWell
Research continues to show that workplace volunteerism provides both mental and physical well-being benefits, from reducing stress to boosting self-esteem. More than 50% of organizations participate in some form of volunteer program, but only 26% allow paid volunteer leave, according to SHRM’s 2019 Employee Benefits Survey.
As a StayWell employee, I’m grateful for the time we have to volunteer and make a difference in our communities. Participating in volunteer work is strongly encouraged across the organization, regardless of the cause or charity we decide to partner with (organizations must be 501(c)(3) accredited). The paid 8 hours employees get each year create room for flexibility and ease concerns on having to take PTO to be involved.
For the past four years, I’ve used my volunteer hours to partner with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), working with children who are in the child protection system due to abuse and neglect. Serving as an advocate often requires going to court on short notice. It makes things much more convenient when you can use volunteer hours and have the ability to work remotely.
It’s a great feeling when you make strong connections and see positive results for others through volunteer work. One young boy I worked with was adopted recently after spending nearly half of his life in the child protection system. The boy had dealt with four resource homes, ten lawyers, three judges, six case workers, three child protection supervisors, two CASA supervisors, and one therapist. It was thrilling to hear that he will have permanency in his life moving forward.
Employers can build a better culture by celebrating volunteerism and empowering employees to be more active in their communities. Here are three benefits of employee volunteering programs that can make a positive impact on your organization.
Employees that volunteer are more productive and feel healthier
Robert Half states that 61% of employees believe participating in philanthropic activities outside of the office enhances well-being—helping to create better work-life balance that ultimately makes them more productive at work.
Additional surveys of volunteers show that more than 90% say volunteering improves their mood, 80% say it reduces their stress levels, and 25% say it helps them manage a chronic illness. Employers could potentially see lower health care costs and higher productivity levels from employees that volunteer on a regular basis.
Positive brand perception
In today’s competitive landscape, organizations are always looking for ways to set themselves apart. One way to do this is by highlighting volunteer and philanthropic efforts in the communities your organization serves, which is becoming increasingly important to consumers.
One Accenture survey discovered that more than 60% of American consumers said their purchasing decisions are affected by a company’s ethical values and authenticity. In addition, nearly 75% of Millennial and Gen Z consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies dedicated to social and environmental change (compared to 51% of Boomers).
Recruiting and retaining talent
Emphasizing volunteering enhances your standing with current and prospective employees. According to Deloitte’s volunteerism survey:
- Nearly 90% of employees think organizations that sponsor volunteer opportunities develop a better working environment
- 70% believe volunteering is more likely to boost morale when compared to company-sponsored happy hours
- 3 in 4 employees think volunteerism provides an improved sense of purpose
The survey also found that almost 70% of people are not volunteering as much as they would like to. What better way to strengthen ties among co-workers and an organization as a whole than by partnering to give back?
Check out this article for ideas on how to encourage employees to volunteer and pick a project that fits for your organization.