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Four Reasons to Empower Employee Volunteerism

spelling bee tweetAt Caiman Consulting, we pride ourselves on stewardship and having a positive impact on the community. Recently, Caiman’s Bay Area team volunteered at the annual spelling bee at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley. Six enthusiastic consultants had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with eager second and third-graders vying for the coveted title of spelling bee champion. It was a great opportunity to give back to our community together and build upon our commitment to corporate responsibility. 

Corporate responsibility is top-of-mind for most 21st-century organizations. Some would even say that the “CSR movement” has become a fad. If you visit the “about us” page of any major corporation (and an increasing number of small-to-medium enterprises) you’ll likely find a section on philanthropy. The inarguable case for responsible business practices has often been made from the perspective of bringing positive change to the world and operating sustainably. The business case for creating a culture of volunteerism in the workplace is less often brought to light. For small-to-medium businesses on the fence about dedicating limited resources to developing a formal volunteering program, here are four ways Corporate Responsibility can drive your bottom line:

  1. Employees want to make an impact on their community. While this may seem like an obvious statement, it’s important to understand how this sentiment translates to the growth of your business. Cone Research found that 79 percent of people prefer to work for a socially responsible company. No matter what their career stage, American workers have similar long-term career goals. According to a study by Forbes, the second most common career goal across the board is the desire to “help solve social and/or environmental challenges.” Businesses who don’t offer opportunities for employees to make a difference risk not being able to attract top talent in the long-term.
  2. Engaged employees are more productive. Gallup found that 70 percent of the American workforce are disengaged from their jobs, with 18 percent of workers being “actively disengaged.” Another study estimates that these “actively disengaged” employees can cost companies $450-$550B USD per year in lost productivity. While there are many factors that can contribute to employee disengagement, there is a positive correlation between corporate volunteerism and employee engagement scores. PWC found that “employees most committed to their organizations put in 57 percent more effort on the job.” Needless to say, providing opportunities for employees to volunteer is low-hanging fruit to drive engagement and reduce the very real cost of a disengaged workforce.
  3. Volunteerism can contribute to a decrease in employee turnover. The financial burden of losing an employee is not small. According to America's Charities, if an employee making $75,000/year leaves, the average investment loss to the employer is $15,000, or 20% of the annual salary. That’s a big number. Aside from the loss of investment when a good employee leaves, there can be a dip in productivity while waiting to find someone to backfill the vacant position. So how can we create the right environment for employees to stay? Offering corporate opportunities to give back to the community and choose causes they care about is a small step that can make a big difference.
  4. Volunteerism can help strengthen working relationships. Group dynamics can make or break the success of a team. Harvard Business Review found that the most effective teams communicate equally, frequently, and often informally. While happy hours and annual conferences are a great way for coworkers to network and get to know one another better, volunteering is a great way to get employees together and give them an opportunity to feel like they’re making a difference (some would call this a “twofer”). Besides making those water cooler conversations less awkward, this can help employees collaborate better. United Health Group found that 81 percent of employees who volunteer together agree that volunteering strengthens their professional relationships.

The benefits of corporate volunteerism are clear and the time to invest in your employees and communities is now. Not sure where to start? Here are a few great resources to find volunteer opportunities: