Top Five Reasons Employees Volunteer

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Employee volunteering and corporate social responsibility has expanded rapidly over the last 10 years. More employees than ever are taking part in hands-on volunteering, virtual volunteering, and skills-based volunteering. A lot can be said for why companies want their employees to volunteer. Not only does it help the company deliver impact but also helps engage their employees and reduce turnover. 

"71% of surveyed employees say it is imperative or very important to work where culture is supportive of giving and volunteering." America's Charities Employee Donor Research

While employees can’t be forced into volunteering, it is possible to sneak volunteering into other team events. However, it’s more important that volunteer leaders understand why some employees may be volunteering in the first place. If they understand those core reasons, it makes them more effective in marketing volunteering to their entire employee base. 

Here are the top five reasons why employees volunteer:

Give Back

“I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.” Thomas Jefferson

Deep down, we believe that everyone wants to do good. Employees want to give back. The vast majority of corporate employees understand how lucky they are and want to help those that are less fortunate. Unfortunately, we live in a time of countless natural disasters, war, famine, and other social justice issues. We constantly see these topics on the news and in social media. 

While many people see this unfortunate news and want to provide support for those affected, most only take action once an opportunity has appeared in front of them, that has already been planned, rather than seeking out ways to help of their own volition. Corporate volunteering creates easy, actionable ways for employees to do good. 

Companies should recognize the importance of supporting their employees to give back to causes that resonate with them. We recommend quarterly surveying to understand what your employees care about. If you’re struggling with participation at your volunteer events, there’s a good chance the causes don’t resonate with your employees. 

Spend Time With Colleagues

“If you take out the team in teamwork, it’s just work. Now who wants that?” Matthew Woodring Stover

We spend over 50% of our lives working and one of the biggest factors affecting enjoyment at work is our colleagues. We build relationships through work and these people become more than just colleagues — they become friends. However, as many employees continue working remotely, it’s harder to grab a coffee together, chat over lunch, or even share a commute. Non-work related overlap to chat about vacations, family, or that challenging project is happening a lot less since we all began working from home. There’s no surprise that employee satisfaction decreased substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Planned employee volunteering provides an opportunity for teams to come together for a positive and fun experience that is not directly related to work. The best volunteering allows for team bonding during the experience so that employees can share with others and receive support from their team. Employees should leave an event not only feeling like they made a real impact but also feeling closer to their team and colleagues. 

Take a Break from Work

“Sometimes doing nothing makes way for everything.” Hiral Nagda

Employees work hard. With never-ending emails, slacks, and text messages from bosses and colleagues, it’s nearly impossible to get away from work. The worst part is, as employees become more and more overworked, and their productivity declines, so too does their happiness.  Neither the company nor the employee is satisfied. This is a recipe for disaster. 

The Great Resignation is a direct response to these issues. 

Volunteering is the perfect break from work. Employees love taking a one to two hour break in their day to give back. Unfortunately, some employees feel too guilty to take a midday break, so bringing the entire team together to do something productive, fun, and helpful is a great way to encourage all employees to relax. 

Learn New Skills

“There’s no better way to learn and practice a skill than through the support of others.” Ben Sampson

Employees want to continue learning. Not only does this learning make them better at their job, but it makes them more competitive in the job market. Many employees are unnecessarily stuck in a certain role without the opportunity to grow or experience new job areas. By learning new skills, they’re able to have a broader, more marketable skill set, not only outside but also within the company 

You’re probably wondering why a company would ever help their employees gain more skills so they can get another job. Leading companies realize that if they help employees continue learning, they become better employees and have increased loyalty to the company. Companies can retain loyal talent by fostering growth. Every new skill that employees learn will make them do their job more thoughtfully, provide means of professional development, and allow them to improve the company! 

Skills-based and pro-bono volunteering is a great way to ensure your employees are learning new skills. Nonprofits are resource constrained, and your employees can donate their time to support them. Not only does this teach them new skills, but it also gives them the fulfillment of helping an organization reach their mission. 

Build Empathy

"Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of 'You’re not alone." Brene Brown

It’s more important than ever for leaders to be driven by empathy. They’re responsible for understanding the thoughts and feelings of their team. Yet often leaders need to figure out their own thoughts and feelings first! Volunteering is an incredible way for individuals to practice empathy. Employees recognize the importance of empathy building and it encourages them to sign-up for volunteer opportunities. 

To make sure that learning opportunities are effective for practicing empathy, it’s essential to build it into every part of the volunteer process. Training empathy is hard and employees appreciate the safe space to practice empathy. 

There are more than five reasons employees want to volunteer and give back. Need more reasons? Just ask your employees! We promise, no one is more motivated to help others than your team. If you need support with volunteering, don’t hesitate to reach out to the WeHero Team. 

The Writers

Andy VandenBerg
Andy VandenBerg is the co-founder and COO of WeHero where he works closely with hundreds of companies to help them reach their social impact goals. Andy speaks actively about the importance of aligning strategy with social responsibility and how companies can pursue both purpose and profit. Andy’s past experience includes private equity and family office investing. If he’s not in front of his computer, you can find him in the Pacific Ocean or Lake Michigan.
Ben Sampson
Ben Sampson is the co-founder and CEO of WeHero where he works closely with hundreds of companies to help them reach their social impact goals. Ben speaks actively about corporate social responsibility, volunteerism, sustainability, and how companies united with activism drive powerful change. Ben’s past experience includes leading product teams, building startups, and studying sustainable business strategy at Harvard. In his free time, he’s an avid outdoor enthusiast focused on skiing, surfing, and mountain biking.

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