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How Volunteerism Increases Employee Engagement

Kristen Harcourt Jun 3, 2015 7:30:00 AM

We’ve all heard the dismal stats concerning employee disengagement and its cost to organizations. According to a study by Gallup, 70% of Americans are not engaged or actively disengaged. A study by ADP put the cost to organizations at $2,246 per disengaged employee.

To find the cost to your organization, just multiply 70% of your employees by $2,246. Yikes. But enough doom and gloom. In honor of National Volunteer Week, I want to share with you some stats showing how volunteer programs can help erase those costs and increase employee engagement.Volunteers

A Healthier Workforce

First, let’s start with the health benefits.

  • Using US Census data and data from the Center for Disease Control, one study found that States with higher volunteer rates had lower mortality rates and less incidence of heart disease
  • A Duke University study showed that people who volunteered actually recovered quicker after a heart attack

Having a healthy workforce not only saves employers money on lost productivity and health care costs, it makes for a happier group of employees, which leads to higher levels of engagement. Now, let’s look at volunteering’s direct impact on engagement.

More Engaged Employees

  • 87% of employees who volunteered through their organization reported an improved perception of that organization and 82% felt more committed, according to an Irish study
  • Research from the Center for Work-Life Policy shows that high-potential employees are motivated by a desire to give back to the community, and more and more seek out employers that allow them to volunteer on company time. 
  • It even helps with employees who don’t volunteer. 61% of millennials who don’t volunteer look favorably on organizations with volunteer programs, according to a Deloitte study

A More Skilled Workforce

Volunteering is an opportunity to help employees develop new skills and competencies they can use on the job. According to a survey by Deloitte:

  • 93% believe that volunteering offers the opportunity to enhance leadership skills
  • 89% feel it helps enhance problem solving skills
  • 88% say it develops decision-making skills
  • 82% agreed it helps enhance negotiating skills

In the Irish study I mentioned earlier, 70% of employee volunteers reported developing their time management, communication, decision-making and leadership skills.

How to Create a Corporate Volunteer Program

According to Edelman PR, there are three guiding principles to consider when creating a corporate volunteer program that will increase employee engagement.

  1. Involve staff by polling employees on the nonprofits they would prefer to partner with. Forming a partnership with a nonprofit is the best way to ensure employees’ time achieves the most results.
  2. Incentivize employees to participate by creating some competition for money raised or hours spent.
  3. Recognize employees’ contributions and celebrate success. Celebrations, group outings or meals are simple ways to show appreciation for employee efforts. And consider working with your nonprofit partner to share the gratitude of those who benefit from employees’ volunteer work so employees feel good about their contribution.

Happy Volunteer Week, everyone! Get out there and make a difference!

What about you? Does your company have a volunteer program? Do you volunteer through your employer?

Image courtesy of Flicker CC and Daniel Thornton


Coaching Cheat Sheet

Topics: Employee Engagement

Kristen Harcourt

Written by Kristen Harcourt

Kristen Harcourt is a highly trusted, creative and collaborative advisor who is passionate about people. She really enjoys helping companies make the right people decisions to achieve long term productivity.