By Julie McCracken
This Friday, CRT/tanaka will close all five of our offices for our annual Community Service Day, or what we like to call “the best day of the year.” Whether serving people in a soup kitchen, packing boxes at the Food Bank or playing memory games with seniors at an adult care center, we’ll be making a difference in our communities, together.
Community Service Day, however, is just one day of the year. Luckily, our company encourages year-round employee volunteerism, and more and more companies are doing the same. In fact, according to Volunteer Match, back in 1992, only 31% of surveyed companies reported the use of volunteer programs to support core business functions. By 1999, that number had grown to 81%. Today, 84% of companies believe that volunteers can help achieve long term social goals.
Beyond its social impact, employee volunteerism is critical to the overall health of your corporate responsibility program and your business. Here’s how:
· Brand Loyalty – Employee-sponsored volunteer programs are a highly-visible way for companies to show their support within their local communities and generate brand awareness. But, be strategic about your volunteer efforts. Ideally, organizations and projects should be selected carefully so they align with your core business competencies. For example, our client TIAA-CREF has created a financial literacy initiative that encourages employees to volunteer with Junior Achievement. In doing so, they’re leveraging their core business expertise in financial services to impact financial literacy in local communities. As a result, they’ve gained positive brand exposure among students, parents and teachers, and, hopefully, brand loyalty and reputational capital. Employee volunteer programs must walk a fine line, however. While you want to want to align your efforts with your key business strengths, you also want to give your employees freedom and choice so they feel supported in pursing their personal passions. A strong employee volunteerism program combines both elements.
· Employee Morale – This isn’t a surprise – volunteering makes people feel good. In a UnitedHealthcare/Volunteer Match survey, 94% of companies polled believed employee volunteering provides a way to increase employee morale. In addition to improving morale and attitude, volunteerism also fosters a sense of teamwork and gives employees an opportunity to get to know each other outside of the office environment. As a result, job satisfaction and performance often increase.
· Recruitment – A strong employee volunteerism program can give your company an advantage in recruiting, particularly when it comes to Millennials. According to Volunteering in America, 11.6 million Millenials dedicated 1.2 billion hours of volunteer time in 2010. When looking at potential job opportunities, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become almost as important as salary and benefits. Typically, Millenials want to work for a company that is making a difference, and are looking for tactile experiences that allow them to make a difference on their own terms.
Put simply, employee volunteerism is no longer a “nice to do” but a “need to do” – for your community, your employees and your business. What is your company doing to show it recognizes this?