Why It Pays to Pay Your Employees to Volunteer
December 19, 2016 | Business and Careers
Nearly every business owner, executive and manager wants to create an environment on the job in which his or her workforce is engaged, productive, loyal and happy. If you can combine that with attracting the best of the best, that’s even better for your business. But it’s not an easy feat. What’s one way you can encourage that? You help them feel good about doing good. You pay them to volunteer.
Employee Volunteer Programs (EVPs) have been shown to motivate and retain top workers and also attract the next generation of leaders, Millennials, who will represent the majority of the workforce in just a few years. A study by the UnitedHealth Group showed that four out of five employees who volunteered through work in the past year feel better about their company because of the employer’s involvement in volunteer activities. Clearly there’s a movement afoot. But why should your organization consider capitalizing on it?
1. There’s good ROI for your organization. Of employees who had volunteered for UnitedHealthcare within the past year, 87 percent reported developing better teamwork and people skills. Some organizations have noticed higher retention rates because workers felt more satisfied and engaged. These improvements are all benefits to a company’s bottom line, and workers feel supported in helping out a cause they are passionate about. Other workplace experts continuously find that EVPs increase employee productivity and loyalty. And when your employees are committed to your organization, a Price Waterhouse Coopers study found, they work harder and are 87 percent less likely to resign.
Supporting volunteer work can also build good will for a company’s brand. When your company shows that it cares about having an impact in your community, it helps people see your organization in a positive light. That can create ties to new partner organizations or establish connections to future clients.
2. It benefits your employees. There are several ways an employee can benefit from being involved in an EVP. If someone is allowed time to help serve a cause she loves, it can increase a sense of fulfillment at work because your employee feels the company understands and cares about what she cares about. It’s also been shown to reduce stress and make people feel healthier. If someone is on a board of directors or leading a team, it can foster new leadership skills and provide a place to test them. Skills-based volunteering can renew passion for what someone does on a daily basis, by offering him a chance to see how old skills can be used in a new way or for a new reason. Finally, volunteering can help your employee find a mentor, someone who leads differently than she does and who can offer to teach her a new skill set.
3. It helps the community. Allowing your staff to engage in an EVP can provide irreplaceable help for nonprofits in your region. Whether you set up an EVP that directs employees to a certain genre of volunteer work or allow them to select a cause they care deeply about, the charities involved are no doubt winners. Here’s why:
- Volunteer teams can make a big impact in a small amount of time.
- Skills-based volunteers can provide services nonprofits may not be able to afford on their own.
- Volunteers bring in fresh ideas and new approaches.
- Volunteers can bring in a more operational mindset versus the mission mindset many nonprofits run on.
The idea of paying your employees to volunteer seems counterintuitive, but the more you dig into the benefits of establishing and supporting an EVP, the more you realize it can make good business sense. The charities served benefit, no doubt; but your company will, too. Whether it’s through increased employee satisfaction, retention, recruiting or gaining new work-related skills, EVPs are worth every penny of a paycheck you offer an employee to work for someone else.