There are many compelling reasons for incorporating a volunteer element in your company culture. For one thing, marshaling the power of your workforce for the good of the community is always a positive measure to take. Also, being an active participant in local volunteer efforts helps boost brand awareness. And, of course, the community benefits from the resourcefulness and enthusiasm your workforce demonstrates in their volunteer work.
Finally, it’s important to remember, as Small Business Trends puts it, “Nobody buys from businesses just because they exist.” Prospective customers “want to do business with real people with integrity and purpose.” Sponsoring a volunteer effort that helps improve your community is an unqualified expression of that integrity and purpose.
Employee pride and empowerment
For many businesses, the impetus to be more community-focused starts with the influx of younger workers (Millennials, Generation Z, etc.). Increasingly, employees of these generations want to help others, even as they do the work needed to grow a business. Recruitment and retention campaigns often flourish when the employer commits to a volunteer effort of some kind.
A sense of pride and empowerment grows out of volunteer activity that’s backed up by the employer. There’s a stronger sense of connection among employees, who not incidentally come away from volunteer projects armed with new skills and insights that can help with daily job performance.
People working for businesses that sponsor a volunteer day, for example, “are proud to tell others where they work,” notes Sage Business Cloud People. They will gladly share news about this work, “even posting on social media about their volunteering activity,” which in turn “further enhances the organisation’s status in the community and raises the profile of the business.”
A win-win for everyone!
Embarking on a volunteer project
A company that’s open to sponsoring volunteer work in the community may not know just where to start. JobMonkey suggests, among other things, exploring ways to help clean up a community park, serving meals at a homeless shelter, and/or participating in efforts to clean up trash in the neighbourhood. The key is finding “volunteer opportunities that are interesting, fun, and meaningful.”
Once a volunteer campaign is up and running, businesses should spread the word about these efforts. Have volunteers wear T-shirts that display the company name and logo. Make sure your employee volunteers can talk about the business if and when they’re asked by others at the site of a volunteer effort. Also, don’t be shy about sharing news of your campaign with local print and electronic media. Reporters are always interested in learning more about efforts that benefit the community they represent.
A few additional tips on maximising the rewards of volunteer work:
- Don’t rush out to the first “good cause” that’s out there. Do some research to determine what non-profit or similar organisation would get the most out of your employees’ generous efforts to help.
- Embrace the volunteer impulse across the board within the organisation. Don’t let it become the province of a small cadre of employees. The broader the support among your workforce, the more good you can do for the community—and the stronger your culture will be, as a result.
- As part of this effort, notes Business2Community, think about “alternatives to volunteering time by allowing people to make monetary donations.” Offering employees the chance to contribute “even if they can’t physically be there, or find the time in their schedule to volunteer, will maximise employee participation.”
Volunteer work helps close the divide between employer and employees, and between a business and the community in which it operates. And when this activity strengthens the sense of belonging among employees and benefits the region in which the business is situated, there are clear advantages all around.