Boost employee satisfaction by giving back

Although volunteerism isn’t always a component of a paid, full-time job, in recent years, a growing number of companies have begun offering incentives to encourage philanthropy.

As of 2015, more than half (59 percent) of companies provided paid time off to volunteer, an increase from 51 percent five years ago, according to research from CEO-led philanthropic coalition CECP.

In addition to helping to contribute to their local community, some organizations found an increased emphasis on employee volunteering had a positive outcome: 47 percent of companies that offer paid volunteer time have seen an increase in employee satisfaction.

Corporate philanthropy can involve much more than just donating products or telling employees you’ve written a check to a few causes at the end of the year. Today, many companies are crafting creative initiatives to help local communities, national charities and global nonprofits — and also let employees know that their employer cares about causes they feel are important.

If your organization doesn’t have an employee volunteering program — but is looking to increase employee satisfaction and retention levels — it may be time to start one. A few factors to consider:

Consider matching more than monetary donations: Microsoft’s Employee Giving Campaign, launched in 1983, features events ranging from a 5K run to an online auction. The tech company matches donations each year up to $15,000 per U.S. employee. Its corporate philanthropy approach also acknowledges the effort employees put in to physically help out charities they care about. In addition to monetary donations, Microsoft will donate $25 an hour to nonprofits for the time employees spend volunteering.

Offer specialized assistance: Since 2010, volunteers in JP Morgan & Chase & Co.’s Technology for Social Good program have spent more than 100,000 hours helping more than 1,500 local nonprofits and socially focused businesses support their mission. Your staff’s unique skill set may be able to make a significant difference at a nonprofit organization. Workers will get a chance to contribute to interesting, innovative projects; and they may also add new skills during the course of their employee volunteering work.

Understand regional approaches to philanthropy: In certain areas, where employee volunteering is extremely common, a proactive approach to corporate philanthropy may need to be a component of your value proposition. Corporate giving team size, for example, is largest in Latin America, according to CECP’s recent Giving Around the Globe report, due in part to the region’s custom of providing both the community and employees with social services.

Create peer-to-peer employee volunteering programs: Research has shown some workers — particularly younger ones – prefer such initiatives. Nearly half of millennials who participated in the 2015 Millennial Impact Report, sponsored in part by the Case Foundation, said they were more likely to donate if a coworker asked them to, as opposed to an executive. Even more millennials — 65 percent — said they’d probably volunteer if coworkers were involved, compared to 44 percent who said they’d participate if a supervisor did.

11-16-15_blog.jpgWith millennials expected to comprise nearly half of the global workforce in four years, according to the Harvard Business Review, attracting and retaining Gen Y workers will be an important component of a successful organization’s talent management plan.

Research has indicated that career fulfillment — including feeling that they are doing relevant work and contributing to society — is particularly important to millennials.

Millennials also believe their charitable efforts can have an impact: 50 percent feel average citizens can influence the challenges facing their local area, according to a 2015 the Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor report.

A focus on employee volunteering and philanthropic monetary donation programs may help influence Gen Y workers to join — and remain engaged with — your organization.

In fact, 55 percent of millennials who were told about cause-related corporate philanthropy in their interview said it helped persuade them to take the job, according to the Case Foundation. Thirty-nine percent of candidates researched an organization’s employee volunteering and other charitable efforts before their interview.

For examples about other ways you can attract Gen Y workers and ensure their employee satisfaction levels remain high, check out our recent blog posts on winning the millennial talent war and the reasons why you shouldn’t overlook a Gen X or Y manager.