Having a greater purpose in our daily life has become a priority for many of us, yet challenging to acquire. While we spend the bulk of our days focused on work and the increasing responsibilities and deadlines, we long for a release that delivers greater meaning at the end of each day.

This month is National Volunteer Month which got us thinking about the role companies can play in opening a window to greater purpose for employees.

As a leader or even as a maker within an organization, we have the ability and the opportunity to create platforms and programs for everyone to bring their time and talent to bigger things. One formalized way is to look within corporate social responsibility or CSR. While this umbrella program typically contains numerous projects, initiatives, policies, and governance within that expand social, environmental, philanthropic, economic, and ethical issues, it’s the elements that fall under corporate-sponsored volunteerism which are embraced most often by individual employees.

Volunteerism is action-oriented and integrates social connection making it a powerful mechanism for employee engagement.

Benefits of a Corporate Volunteer Program

There are plenty of benefits from employee volunteer programs, particularly if it’s fully supported and sponsored by top leadership. Unfortunately, there are many instances where volunteer programs are looked at as an add-on to their cache of items to improve employee interest versus a strategic tactic that places talent and reputation as critical beneficiaries.

Let’s take a closer look at the top benefits of a corporate-sponsored volunteer program.

  • Boosts employee engagement – When we like where we work and respect the people and the company, we naturally become more engaged. Offering the opportunity to volunteer in the community regularly draws us inside our daily lives in new ways. This sense of purpose and doing good engages us in ways our daily tasks and responsibilities simply cannot.

    When we can break from the norm and give our time through service and selflessness, with tangible outcomes directly linked to our actions, we become immersed and renewed.
  • Increases overall job satisfaction and performance – As we boost engagement through helping others, we are energized and ready to return to work with a better outlook and renewed energy. Our performance is improved, and the general satisfaction we have for our jobs, the people we work with, and the company we work for automatically increases.
  • Improves mental health and wellness – Being fully engaged in our responsibilities, enjoying the work we do, and liking the people we work with has an enormous impact on our mental health and well-being. Volunteerism provides better balance in our lives and takes the emphasis off ourselves. And giving to others triggers the release of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine in our brains, giving us a feeling of euphoria.
  • Attracts and retains top talent – As we are now seeing, existing employees and potential hires are looking to work for companies that prioritize purpose and potential impact on society. If businesses fail to live up to promises both inside and out, good employees will seek other organizations that integrate this priority as part of their vision, strategy, and brand. Purpose-driven businesses will always attract top talent, generate more significant employee commitment, and boost retention.
  • Good for business – Authentic, committed, and well-sponsored employee volunteer programs are simply good for business. Aside from the benefits to employees, clients and potential clients place preference on organizations that practice service in the community and society versus those that do not. In professional services businesses, you’ll often see CSR and philanthropic activities posed as questions in the RFP process, making it a factor in the final buying decision.

    Additionally, companies that embrace and support employee volunteerism can raise their public profile through social media, media relations, and investor activities. Placing a spotlight on how businesses are impacting social and environmental change shows they are passionate about giving back to the communities they serve. They appear less focused on making money and more attentive to resolving societal issues. And all of that is good business.

Does your organization or business offer an employee volunteer program? If not, why not? Is this something you can help build today?

There’s more to building a corporate volunteer program than hitting up a few community activities. It requires a clearly defined purpose, alignment to company values and goals, a meaningful strategy and plan, and strong commitment from those at the top.

Giving of time and serving others must become a natural part of the company culture. Support for employees taking time off from daily tasks to serve the community is essential. Socializing across the company through tracking activities, measuring successes, and sharing milestones and stories will amplify all efforts.

Building a direct connection with employees to the community can be one of the most valuable efforts your business can undertake. Will you commit to driving purpose and meaning?