When you run a business, you have many business decisions to make. No matter the type, size or scale of your organization, these business decisions can have big implications on the bottom line, the workforce and the company culture. So how do you prioritize its core values, where you invest and other business decisions? If you have not yet considered or incorporated social responsibility into these business critical decisions, you may be missing an integral piece.

According to a PwC study, “Employees most committed to their organizations put in 57% more effort on the job – and are 87% less likely to resign – than employees who consider themselves disengaged.” (1) Why does this matter? Turnover at a company can be expensive. In fact, the average cost of employee turnover is 20% of an employee’s salary. This number can go up even further for top-level employees, where it can cost closer to 150%. (1)

Although turnover can stem from many different reasons (such as desired salary, access to benefits or career growth potential), in reality, many of the motivations for employees to leave their jobs can actually be controlled by the employer. According to HumanResources.com, here are the 10 top reasons employees leave their place of work (1):

  1. Bad or nonexistent relationship with boss
  2. Bored and unchallenged by the work itself
  3. Lack of relationships or friendship with co-workers
  4. Opportunities to use skills and abilities
  5. Contribution of work to the organization’s business goals
  6. Autonomy and independence
  7. Meaningfulness of work
  8. Organization’s financial stability
  9. Overall corporate culture
  10. Management’s recognition of employee job performance

Now consider the direct and indirect benefits of offering volunteer and service opportunities through the organization. There are countless ways this can bring all-level employees together, build up relationships and friendships and encourage employees to feel a part of something bigger (adding another layer of meaningfulness to the work and organization itself). Let’s look at some of the primary benefits of offering volunteer and service opportunities for employees, and tips for driving engagement:

  1. Drives Teamwork and Builds Friendships: getting out of the office and participating in community service allows employees to connect on a different level and in a new environment. Whether that means breaking down barriers between teams and levels of management or finding common areas of interest amongst each other, it encourages comradery and teamwork for everyone.

    Idea: consider large group or entire office outings, or even designate pre-selected groups for activities, so employees can meet and mingle with new faces from the company.

  2. Shows Proof and Accountability for Firm’s Stance on Corporate Social Responsibility: authenticity and genuineness go a long way these days. By proving your organization is supporting causes in need, it shows you make the extra effort and are focused on a common goal for a higher good. Instead of just saying what you believe in, you make a sacrifice and take action to support it.

    Idea: support causes that your organization believes in. Take a poll or ask employees for volunteer ideas. Or give back to a cause that relates to your business (for example, a real estate company may consider building houses or helping the homeless, etc)

  3. Establish Culture & Create Meaningful Work: culture relates to the intangible aspects of a workplace and refers to how the organization makes employees feel. This connection to the work and the organization gives it a purpose, a shared motivation and a new kind of meaning. This can help employees feel challenged, independent and a part of the overall company vision. Furthermore, employees will feel that their efforts are making a difference and they are getting visibility within the company.

    Idea: keep office outings fun and interactive. Consider adding a social component, such as a sponsored happy hour or lunch either before or after the event for some extra motivation to participate, network and have fun.

  4. Improves Retention and Engagement: employees stay at companies that they feel make a difference in their lives and in others’. In addition to minimizing turnover, volunteering can also increase engagement. Engaged employees means happier employees, which leads to higher retention, greater loyalty, greater productivity and ideally, profitability.

    Idea: create an enticement to get involved, such as Volunteer Paid Time Off (VTO). This will encourage employees to volunteer, and shows the organization supports the effort. You may even consider throwing a celebration or giving a gift to recognize those employees who maximize their VTO.

  5. Improves Recruitment: When someone gets the usual question, “How’s work going,” give them something to talk about. Word-of-mouth is powerful and giving your employees these types of events to chat about with their family and friends benefits the organization. Corporate Social Responsibility has become one of the key attributes to attracting new employees. If your business is not involved in it, then it could be missing a big segment of talent.

    Idea: don’t forget to include available volunteer opportunities in employee handbooks or job descriptions. Lead conversations with the company stance on corporate social responsibility, and discuss ways employees can get involved when talking to potential employees or clients.

  6. Great for PR and Marketing: Furthermore, it is stated that 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. This number increases to 73% for Millennials. In fact, 81% of Millennials expect their favorite companies to make public declarations about their corporate citizenship and the efforts they take to support it. (2) So in addition to supporting a cause, it’s just as important to document and showcase how you’re giving back through your company communications and marketing efforts.

    Idea: showcase how and what your company supports by featuring it in company communications and marketing efforts. Utilize social media channels, the website and other marketing touch points to post pictures and feature what the office is involved in. Encourage employees to tag each other and share pictures from the events for additional exposure.

As you can see, the above 6 benefits of offering volunteer opportunities address all of the Top 10 reasons employees leave their jobs. So where to get started? Before diving into the specific opportunities you’d like to volunteer for, think about what cause(s) you’d like to support. Consider the interests of employees and any specific causes that may complement your business category. Next, determine the objectives for your volunteer program. What are the goals and ideal outcomes for it? For example, do you want employees to complete a certain number of volunteer hours each year? Or is there a specific budget you’d like to commit to? A certain number of people you’d like to help? Once you have your plan down, you can begin searching for volunteer opportunities. In addition to asking employees or a stakeholder group within the organization, you can use online resources such as Idealist.org or VolunteerMatch.org to find ways to get involved. (3)

Considering 1/3 of our life is spent at work (4), it’s important to make it a place employees trust and believe in. Implementing volunteer opportunities to your organization can really pay off, in many ways.

Giving back is better together – how can you get involved and lead the charge?

Check out how ISU Credit Union makes a difference in the communities we serve through Teal Team VI

(1) https://www.charities.org/news/business-case-employee-volunteer-skills-giving-programs
(2) https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahlandrum/2017/03/17/millennials-driving-brands-to-practice-socially-responsible-marketing/#4a5d763a4990
(3) https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/254929
(4) http://www.gettysburg.edu/news_events/press_release_detail.dot?id=79db7b34-630c-4f49-ad32-4ab9ea48e72b