Companies With Employee Volunteer Programs – Summary. In society as a whole, volunteering has stopped or slightly decreased in recent years. However, it has been on the rise in the corporate world. In fact, paid time off for volunteering is one of the few employee benefits to have increased significantly over the past five years. The benefits of well-designed corporate volunteer programs have been clearly demonstrated: they increase productivity, increase employee engagement, and improve recruitment and retention, to name a few. But too often corporate programs fail. When designing their volunteer programs, companies fall victim to common pitfalls: they blindly copy what other companies are doing, prioritize managers’ pet projects, or pressure employees to participate, making compulsory volunteering. Such errors reduce the value of programs to the business, employees, and society. Instead, companies should prioritize meaning, balance top-down structure with bottom-up passion, and seek to engage diverse stakeholders in their initiatives.
The benefits of well-designed corporate volunteer programs have been clearly demonstrated: they increase productivity, increase employee engagement, and improve recruitment and retention, to name a few. But too often corporate programs fail.
Companies With Employee Volunteer Programs
When designing their volunteer programs, companies fall victim to common pitfalls: they blindly copy what other companies are doing, prioritize managers’ pet projects, or pressure employees to participate, making compulsory volunteering.
Examples Of Corporate Volunteer Programs
Such errors reduce the value of programs to the business, employees, and society. Instead, companies should prioritize meaning, balance top-down structure with bottom-up passion, and seek to engage diverse stakeholders in their initiatives.
In society as a whole, volunteering has stopped or slightly decreased in recent years. However, it has been on the rise in the corporate world. In fact, paid time off for volunteering is one of the few employee benefits to have increased significantly in recent years. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 47% of U.S. companies offered community volunteer programs in 2018, up from 40% in 2014. This percentage is even higher for large corporations. Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose, a global coalition of multi-billion dollar companies, reported that 66% of its member companies offered paid volunteer programs in 2019, up from 56% in 2016.
It is unclear whether these trends will continue as the Covid-19 pandemic and global recession continue. Some crises seem to raise people’s awareness of societal needs: In the United States, for example, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, volunteerism reached its highest level in two decades, a jolt that lasted several years. Yet after the Great Recession, volunteer involvement and philanthropy declined. The current economic downturn will likely cause businesses to tighten their belts and managers may be forced to cut volunteer programs. But even in difficult times, there are good reasons to maintain well-managed initiatives.
Numerous studies have shown that volunteer programs increase productivity, increase employee engagement, and improve hiring and retention. For example, a study I conducted in 2013 showed that the more people volunteered (even if it was on their own time instead of company time), the better they performed at work. It also showed that volunteers tended to be better citizens in their work (helping others, expressing ideas, etc.). Another study, conducted by David Jones of the University of Vermont and colleagues, showed that potential applicants found companies offering employee volunteering programs particularly attractive for three main reasons: the job seekers’ expected pride in being affiliated with the company, their perception of its values. and their expectations of how the company treats its employees. Research has also strongly confirmed the benefits of volunteering for people’s well-being and sense of purpose, not to mention their physical and mental health.
Article: Top Reasons Why Employee Volunteering Is A Good Investment — People Matters
Corporate volunteer programs tend to reflect the personal priorities of senior management. But what’s important to managers may not be important to employees.
In my research and consulting work, I have seen corporate volunteer programs of all shapes and sizes. Some companies allow employees to volunteer for a cause or activity of their choice. others organize well-structured outings that teams can participate in together – for example, a charity run or house building work. While the Covid-19 restrictions have halted many mainstream volunteering activities, they have also spawned a number of creative programs that empower people to make a difference even in a lockdown situation – for example, by pushing to distance from major helplines, serving as “phone buddies” to watch over seniors, or taking part in 5k races at home on treadmills. Companies also differ in how they encourage, recognize and reward employee volunteerism. And this variation makes sense: companies need to tailor their programs to factors such as company size, customer and investor expectations, and cultural norms and characteristics. Although the programs are different, the mistakes companies make are often painfully similar. In this article, I’ll talk about common pitfalls businesses face and some best practices for designing and implementing programs that work.
There are many ways companies can go wrong when organizing and implementing volunteer programs. The three most common problems:
When designing programs, managers are often tempted to take the easy way out and copy what they see successful companies doing in their industry. The thought is “everyone around me does it this way, so it must be effective”. However, this reasoning is based on an assumption that may be wrong; the programs of these other companies may
Five Indicators Show Growth In Purpose At World’s
Be effective or useful. A cut-and-paste approach can also create a mismatch between a company’s mission and goals and its agenda, limiting its strategic value and inherent appeal to employees.
Too often, managers focus their company’s volunteer programs on their own personal philanthropic desires. (They often do the same when making corporate donations or in-kind contributions to charities.) Or they let inertia dictate the continuation of the charitable choices of their predecessors. Consequently, corporate volunteer programs tend to reflect the personal priorities and values of senior management. But what’s important to senior management may not be important to employees – they are the cornerstone of corporate volunteering.
Working with United Way Worldwide, my colleagues and I surveyed nearly 500 employees in 2014 and 2015, some volunteering and some not, at 50 companies that offered volunteer programs. Of the employees who opted out, some said it was due to logistical issues and a lack of flexibility in the program. For example, they explained that the timing of the event “just wasn’t right” or that the location was “too far away”. But many others said they were motivated by programs that prioritized leaders’ pet projects, sharing sentiments such as “I prefer to choose volunteer opportunities that interest me and that I really feel good about.” ‘need extra help, rather than those who [my employer] is in contact with.” These findings suggest that volunteer programs built around senior management preferences are unlikely to be well received by basic employees.
Once corporate volunteer programs are in place, companies often feel pressured to involve as many people as possible and continually expand their initiatives. Unfortunately, this can put pressure on employees to volunteer, creating de facto “compulsory volunteering”. Research by psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan shows that this leads to a problematic contradiction: if people perceive that they are rewarded for participating in a task or punished for choosing not to do so, their intrinsic motivation and satisfaction with the activity often declines.
The Virtuous Cycle Of Community Involvement And Employee Engagement
Corporate pressure can also lead to what researchers call “virtue signaling” by employees, participating only to make a good impression on their colleagues and supervisors. In theory, this could cause employees to encourage each other, but in practice, this does not happen. When employees respond to management pressure to volunteer, co-workers often see their efforts as dishonest attempts to please their superiors. In a longitudinal field study of American workers, my colleague John Lynch and I found that workers who volunteered to make a good impression were often stigmatized rather than applauded. Far from being viewed as moral role models, their co-workers called them distracted from their work, complacent, and narcissistic. Workers in our study noted that they tended to avoid or shy away from co-workers who drew attention to their volunteer work in this way, feeling what they saw as a subtle attempt to push activity on employees. others. Even superiors were more likely to ignore these people when making important decisions such as promotion recommendations.
Companies often measure the success of a volunteer program by the percentage of the workforce that participates, but my research shows that the mere existence of volunteer opportunities can help employees feel more engaged. In our research with United Way Worldwide, we found that in companies that offered programs, employee loyalty increased not only among employees who volunteered, but also among those who did not. People who chose not to volunteer commented on things like, “It’s great that [my company] offers volunteer programs” and “I’m glad volunteering is available.”
Although companies should avoid pressuring their employees to volunteer, they can still take action.
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