According to Fortune’s annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, employee volunteerism, or paid time off to volunteer, is an increasingly popular offering among companies. From organizing an offsite day to volunteer at a soup kitchen to leveraging employees’ expertise on extended service trips across the world, employee volunteerism is an important piece to consider when discussing broader corporate social responsibility and employee engagement strategies.
Why a culture of purpose is so important
Today’s workforce wants purpose and meaning at work, and employee volunteerism can help to support employees’ interests. According to results from Fortune, the phrase, “My work has special meaning: this is not ‘just a job’” tops the list of distinguishing factors associated with the desire to stay at a current employer, followed by the belief that “I make a difference here,” and “When I look at what we accomplish, I feel a sense of pride.”
A Deloitte survey cites that 78% of employees would rather work for an ethical and reputable company, than receive a higher salary. And a Millennial Impact Report cites that millennials between the ages of 25 to 30 were more likely to accept a position if they heard about “cause work” or corporate volunteerism in the interview. Offering employee volunteerism initiatives can help to support a culture that prioritizes purposeful, meaningful work.
Paid time off to volunteer
There are several companies that really stand out when it comes to offering robust employee volunteerism initiatives.
For example, Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company, offers its employees 80 hours per year of time to volunteer in the community. Many of their offsite meetings have a community service component and there is a Novo Nordisk Social Awareness Team in charge of organizing community give back projects.
Deloitte employees get up to 48 hours per year to volunteer and the company offers a variety of ways for employees to get involved. Several ways include their annual Impact Day, the company’s annual day of service, encouraging employees to serve on non-profit boards and company supported fundraising efforts for various causes and organizations.
Salesforce lets employees take up to 56 hours for volunteering each year. For those who reach this number, Salesforce offers a $1000 grant that the employee can donate to the charity of their choice.
Taking volunteerism around the world
Deloitte and IBM have taken the concept of keeping employee satisfaction high through a culture of volunteerism to a whole new level that benefits its employees, the company and the non-profit organizations they serve. Deloitte offers a skills based volunteer opportunity each year, where over 200 Deloitte professionals get involved in week-long service-related consulting projects to educate and support local nonprofits and micro-enterprises in developing countries.
IBM’s Corporate Service Corps initiative sends top talent to work with government, business and civic leaders across the world to help address high priority issues. Employees who completed the program cite the following:
- 90 percent said the program increased their understanding of IBM’s role in the developing world
- 88 percentage agreed or strongly agreed that leadership skills had been increased
- 76 percentage said it boosted their desire to complete their business career at IBM
Measuring the value of volunteerism
Measuring the value of volunteerism is critical for CSR reporting and to share impact across company communications channels. An Australian study cites that the number one reason for employees to participate in corporate volunteerism is that it makes work more meaningful.
The most common way to measure the value of a volunteer initiative is to calculate how much money a nonprofit saved by not having to hire someone to complete the work. The U.S. Department of Labor is helpful to estimate hourly wages for various tasks performed. For example, if 10 employees each spend four hours volunteering at a soup kitchen, the U.S. Department of Labor cites that hourly Food Service work is valued at $11.28 per hour, totaling $451.20 of completed work.
Skills development may also be an area of measurement. For example, if employees are applying professional skills when they volunteer and are given the opportunity to acquire and apply new skills through working with the non-profit, such as honing in on their project management or leadership skills this is an opportunity to track development.
Another way to measure impact is by working with the organization to gather some impact numbers. A variety of initiatives could be measured depending on the scope of work completed, such as number of constituents served during a period.
Employee volunteerism can have long term positive effects on attracting and retaining customers, being a corporate leader in the community and offering your employees the opportunity to serve in a meaningful way.