Why employee volunteering is the most underrated corporate social responsibility tactic - Social Good Connect

Why employee volunteering is the most underrated corporate social responsibility tactic

11 August 2021

When it comes to socially responsible business, there are many loud voices, but no common language.

With demand increasing from consumers and employees alike – 83% of millennial employees would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues, and 64% of consumers will buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue – companies are vocal about their ethical business practices. But that means something a little different for everybody.

Whether you call it CSR (corporate social responsibility) or ESG (environmental, social, governance), or even simply ‘social impact’, there is a vague understanding that this means considering a company’s ‘triple bottom line’ – their impact on people, planet, and profits.

For some, that means ad-hoc fundraising activities or taking measures to improve workplace wellbeing through mental health policies and training. For others it’s all about reducing their carbon footprint and investing in more environmentally sustainable business practices.

With so many ways to improve social impact activities, and ever-changing societal attitudes regarding which is the most important, it can be hard to juggle a company’s internal commitment to do better with their external pressures.

But what if we told you there was a way to hit many of your social impact goals with one well-considered programme?

Employee Volunteering

Employee volunteering is one of the most underrated CSR tactics because traditional employee volunteering programmes don’t usually have the flexibility or level of employee ownership to facilitate wide-ranging and significant social impact.

Choosing a charity of the year to support or giving employees ‘two days a year’ to go out and volunteer is an OK start, but this might not bring you all the powerful benefits that employee volunteering can create.

The key criteria of a highly impactful employee volunteering programme are:


Employee choice:

By all means support a charity of the year. Many charities will tell you that this kind of longer-term partnership allows them breathing space to plan for the future..

However, don’t insist that all employee volunteering activity goes towards this chosen charity. Not only will it limit the breadth of your community impact, but it will likely put off employees who don’t feel strongly about this cause.

Instead, encourage and support your team to give their time towards the causes that matter most to them. If you keep track of the number of charities that your employees support this way and the number of hours they spend doing so, you’ll get to know your team better and be introduced to many new potential charity partners in the process.

Flexibility

The time each business gives their employees to go out and volunteer varies drastically from company to company. At Social Good Connect, each team member gets two hours a week, however two days a year or a quarter is also a pretty standard amount of time for a volunteer policy.

But regardless of how much or how little time employees are given, what matters most is how flexible they can be with using this time.

A day of volunteering is not always easy to organise and is unlikely to comprise the kind of support that charities really need. Instead of spending a whole day out of the office building a wall for a community garden, employees could be spending twenty minutes a week supporting a vulnerable person with telephone befriending or advising and assisting a charity with their digital marketing efforts to help them reach a wider audience of supporters.

Short, regular volunteering activities like these are not only easier to manage and commit to for employees, but can create a transformative and significant impact for the causes they support.

And, if done right, employee volunteering programmes that include employee choice and flexibility can open a business up to benefits such as:

Healthy, happy people

The potential impact of employee volunteering on employee wellbeing is often one of the most underrated benefits.

Volunteering can help employees:

  • take a break from work to do something meaningful and important to them
  • learn new skills or develop existing skills
  • meet new people and increase their network
  • try something new and feel good about giving back.

Businesses tend to think of employee volunteering as a ‘fluffy’ nice thing to do for someone else rather than realise how much this activity can benefit them. Of course, the main reason for getting involved with volunteering will always be to make a difference and give back, but don’t underestimate how rewarding lending your skills for good can be!

Positive impact on communities

Employee volunteering in a flexible and consistent way can help a company:

  • create deeper connections with their community
  • contribute to solving social needs
  • do the right thing by their employees and their wider stakeholders

This kind of varied employee volunteering activity could introduce you to local charities and community groups that may be ideally placed for future partnerships, and help the local community get to know you better in the meantime.

You’ll create a more meaningful and longer lasting impact through regular, reliable, volunteering actions and this makes it easier to track your impact too!

Business for good

Following all of this advice allows a company to:

  • enhance their culture, brand and reputation
  • increase customer loyalty
  • drive legacy
  • better show their community benefit when competing for public tenders

This is the benefit that most companies won’t shout about. However, consistently supporting your community in a meaningful way through employee volunteering is likely to open you up to a whole new audience of potential customers and position your brand as a trustworthy and positive company.

On top of this, your team are your biggest asset, and if they feel supported, heard and valued in their role, and able to contribute to the causes that matter most to them without being dictated to by the company, they are more likely to share their positive experiences with others.

Creating a legacy of supportive, inclusive, meaningful community impact through a well-considered employee volunteering programme? As one of our business members, Golphin, put it: ‘why wouldn’t you!?’

Want to get involved?

Employee volunteering is only one aspect of a wider CSR campaign but, if done right, it can be one of the most impactful. To find out more about how Social Good Connect can help you achieve all of the above benefits in a simple and hassle-free way, book a call with Sarah, our Business Engagement Manager.

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