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December 4, 2023

Volunteerism can create employee engagement

Volunteering can make us feel good. Did you realize that volunteering programs can also do a lot for your business?

Volunteering makes employees feel empowered, happy, and engaged in their work because it helps them connect their values to the organization’s commitment to serving the communities where employees live.

The Marsh McLennan Agency 2023 Absence, Disability, and Leave Policy Benchmarking Report found that 41% of the 800 companies interviewed offered employees time off for volunteering, and 29% offered paid time off for doing so.

Corporate volunteering can benefit deserving organizations by raising money, providing services, and more. However, you might not realize how much volunteering can help employees feel even more committed to your company.

How does volunteering help employees?

It helps employees feel more empowered.

Employees feel empowered when they’re able to contribute to causes that they truly believe in. The Giving in Numbers report from the Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose showed that when a cause resonates with employees, they are more likely to participate in a volunteer program.

A Deloitte 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey found that employees in those age groups feel a deep need to balance work with the ability to affect social change. They prefer to work for companies that give them opportunities to serve the community.

It helps employees develop talents and skills.

Many employees have untapped skills they’d like to hone and use. These are often skills that can create substantial value for the company.

The Giving in Numbers report found that of companies that offer employer-sponsored volunteering programs, 73% offered skills-based volunteer programs that allowed employers to practice tangible skills to help the community. Employees then bring this expertise back to the company, which creates more value for the organization and enhances the employee's self-worth.

It helps them feel happier.

The Journal of Happiness Studies discovered that volunteering can have a profoundly positive impact on employees’ physical and mental health. It helps to alleviate stress and produce happiness. Employees who volunteer can have higher morale, work harder, and take pride in their work and the company.

It helps develop leadership potential.

Exploring and employing their talents can often help employees realize they possess leadership potential. Volunteering can be an excellent way for employees to show their affinity for leadership, especially for activities that need management and organizational skills.

It helps to improve employee engagement.

The Gallup organization, which has tracked employee engagement for decades, has found that only 36% of employees are positively engaged with their jobs and companies. They want to feel connected to the company and enthusiastic about working there, but they often do not.

Volunteering motivates employees.

Volunteering can encourage employees to perform better and develop a deeper loyalty to the company. And happier, more engaged employees tend to stay, reducing turnover rates and helping to create a more stable, productive workplace.

10 easy ways small-to-midsized businesses can serve the community

Community volunteering is a proven way to increase employee engagement and make employees feel more connected to the company. However, small or midsized businesses may have difficulty allowing employees time off—especially paid time off—to participate in community volunteering. Having many employees gone for an entire day or more could significantly disrupt the business.

Here are a few ideas to allow employees to volunteer without sacrificing time or money.

  1. Join an existing volunteer program.

    This could include entering a charity race, donating goods to a charity auction, participating in a community clean-up, or joining a food drive. Someone else organizes and administrates the program so your employees can quickly stop by to participate.

  2. Look into online volunteering.

    You can host a “mapathon” with Missing Maps. This virtual volunteering event makes it easier for employees to choose and participate in helping victims of natural or man-made disasters worldwide.

  3. Organize your own fundraiser.

    This could be a raffle, walkathon, race, or any other community event to raise money and awareness for your employees’ favorite cause.

  4. Host an item drive.

    Collect school supplies or canned goods for a local food bank or clothing for families in need. Create a collection area and promote the drive inside and outside the company.

  5. Work with established non-profits.

    Many larger non-profits provide everything you’ll need to sponsor an event for a specific cause. You simply follow their prescribed steps and the company and the non-profit benefit.

  6. Have select employees choose specific causes.

    Rather than having employees leave work to volunteer for one event, let employees choose specific causes and participate in multiple events. That way, only a few employees are off work at any given time.

  7. Promote mentor/training programs.

    Individuals or small groups can work with disadvantaged community members to help them acquire skills for the job market, financial management capabilities, arts involvement, and more.

  8. Let employees teach a class.

    Employees skilled in yoga, dance, or playing an instrument can teach short-term classes through Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA or YWCA, local schools and churches, or wherever needed.

  9. Use Volunteer Match. is the largest web-based volunteer network, serving more than 130,000 non-profits and 150 corporate network partners. They can help you find a cause you can support.

  10. Work with a local charity.

    Providing money, goods, or services to a local charity can be a wonderful but less time-consuming way to make a significant community impact. Contact your favorite—or your employees’ favorite—charity and find out what they need the most.

Looking for more ways to help your employees give back? Reach out to a Marsh McLennan Agency colleague today to see how we can help you find opportunities to serve your community.