Supporting a worthy charity is one thing. But running a volunteer programme in your organisation can offer even bigger benefits for your team, your community, and your bottom line.
Hands up who likes volunteering. If your arm shot up just then, you’re not alone, especially if you work for a larger company.
That’s because in the last three decades, corporate volunteering has grown by nearly 150%, and in many quarters is now seen as an essential factor in a company’s overall profile.1 So why should this be, and what exactly is the big attraction when, essentially, any company time ‘given away’ on unpaid labour could be perceived as a financial loss?
While many companies around the world have always looked to sponsor charities and help those in need, the additional step of volunteering has started to become the norm.
Maybe that’s because volunteering is seen as the ultimate altruistic activity; a social ethos which is seen as more and more important to both employees and the general public these days.
In fact, there’s plenty of research out there to suggest that consumers now demand a level of altruism from the brands they respect, and are increasingly unwilling to tolerate corporate decisions based purely on profit.
Thus, giving back to the community directly has quietly become one of the best ways to enhance a company’s image. And by actively encouraging volunteer work within your organisation, any company can boost their public profile, and so much more.
The wider benefits for business
Social responsibility aside, it turns out that a well-run volunteer programme can also help to increase your team’s satisfaction and engagement at work.
Indeed, a recent Deloitte report found that 70 percent of employees believe volunteer work is more likely to boost team morale than staff drinks or happy hours.2 Those who responded also stated they were more inclined to be loyal to a company that championed its own volunteering scheme.
All of which would suggest that introducing a volunteering scheme is a great idea for any business. So let’s take a look at all the positives it can bring to your company, both internally and externally:
1) Helps people connect
Volunteering can have a huge impact, making a real difference in the lives of people in need. In addition, it also strengthens everyone’s ties with the local community, introducing you and your team to people you may otherwise never have met, and/or people with common interests. Plus it’s great for developing better social skills outside your usual work bubble. A win/win.
2) Good for mental health
A change of scene can be mentally refreshing for everyone, no matter where they work. As well as allowing us to ‘escape’ the office (or home office), volunteering and giving your time for free also triggers your brain’s reward pathway, making you feel more content.3
3) Good for physical health
The activity and exertion involved in volunteering can often provide a good workout, especially if it involves being outside in the fresh air. Plus some studies show that helping others is also directly linked to improved physical health, including weight control, lower blood pressure and relief from depression and chronic pain.4
4) Improves staff engagement
Today’s employees, especially Millennials, are increasingly entering the workforce with the expectation that volunteering will be part and parcel of their professional career. In fact, many gravitate towards companies who offer a volunteer programme. It can even be a deal breaker for some when choosing between jobs, helping them to feel better about their workplace.
5) Helps staff development
Life outside our day-to-day roles can often take us outside our comfort zones, which is great news for developing life skills and additional experience. It can also help your team learn valuable leadership and communication skills, along with enhancing soft skills such as evaluation, goal-setting and project management.
6) Helps retain talent
Staff turnover can be a costly expense for any company – training new recruits takes both time and money. But engaged, happier employees are more likely to stay with you, and volunteering can be a vital part of the puzzle for building a business culture that retains the best people.
7) Builds your brand
What customers think of your company matters. So perhaps the most important thing that a volunteer programme contributes is the value to your reputation and brand. And of course, when customers respect your brand, the likelihood is that your staff do too, which improves performance – and your bottom line.
To conclude, then, no matter how big your company or how many of your team get involved, giving back to our communities can make a real difference in the world, and to your business. And there are so many different ways to get involved and make a positive impact.
So whether it’s serving meals at a local homeless shelter, organising a tree planting event, or simply picking up litter at the beach, now’s a great time to jump on board and volunteer. Your team - and your customers - will thank you for it.
3, 4 https://sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2017/05/03/7-surprising-benefits-of-volunteering-.html
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