Becoming an Employer of "Choice"

Offering workplace giving and volunteering boosts employee autonomy and engagement.
Aug 23, 2017 9:00 AM ET

Becoming an Employer of "Choice"

Thanks to today’s diverse and socially conscious workforce—and driven by the rise of Millennials—people are increasingly demanding more meaning and purpose in their workplace. This has led to a shift towards employee-centered and team-based volunteering programs, as companies capitalize on the powerful relationship between increased purpose at work, higher employee engagement and greater skills and leadership development.

Skills-based volunteering programs are picking up steam. In fact, according to the 2016 CECP Giving in Numbers report, they’re currently the fastest growing type of corporate volunteer program. Fifty-four percent of companies now encourage their people to offer their specialized skills and talents to charities on a pro bono basis.

Skills-based volunteering enables individuals to apply their unique skills and experience to causes they are passionate about, yielding tangible benefits for all parties involved. Employees benefit by using their talents to give back to a favorite cause, while feeling supported by their company in doing so. Companies in turn benefit from the important competencies their people develop outside the workplace, like leadership, autonomy, cross-functional collaboration and problem-solving. They also build valuable employer brand loyalty, which helps recruit, retain and engage top talent. And, finally, charities that might be lacking access to people with these specific and necessary skills can greatly benefit from pro bono service.

So, as we often say, the “why” of an employee volunteering program is pretty obvious, but the “how” needs to be considered carefully. For instance, workplace programs that include only volunteering limit the ways in which employees can support their chosen causes.  In so doing, they can deprive companies of a simple but important employee engagement opportunity.