Although it may seem counterintuitive, HR officials with knowledge or certificates in psychology are coming to the conclusion that employees who volunteer may be more engaged in their work and better able to contribute to a positive company culture than those employees who do not. Today’s post by Alexa Thompson explores the psychological effects of volunteerism on employees as individuals and corporations as organizations. In a theme similar to Realized Worth’s employee engagement series’, Alexa suggests that when employees provide worthwhile and needed services, they feel valued and have more at stake in their work.

Though the recent economic recession and slow, arduous recovery has fostered an image of business as more cutthroat than ever, recent studies are illustrating a starkly different view, that of an increasingly compassionate and socially aware American workforce. The Corporation for National and Community Service states that volunteering continues to grow in popularity, recently reaching a 30-year high, with estimates of more than 60 million American volunteers each year. While the commonly espoused narrative states that businesses are becoming more austere and averse to charity, a growing number of company leaders are finding that the long-term health of their businesses is contingent on genuine efforts toward community engagement, leading to a greater emphasis on volunteer efforts at the workplace than ever before.

A 2007 Volunteer IMPACT survey from Deloitte & Touche found that 62% of young job seekers would prefer to work for companies that give them opportunities to contribute their talents to nonprofit organizations. Further studies have shown that among job seekers, those with the greatest potential for long-term success are the most eager to give back. A survey from employee engagement consultancy LeapCR even found that more than 10% of those surveyed would take a “significant” pay cut to work for a company that encouraged charity activities among staff.

Research from the Center for Work-Life Policy has shown that the most skilled employees are often driven by a desire to contribute positively to the world, leading some forward-thinking companies to begin using community service partnerships to help valued employees fulfill their ambitions while progressing in their careers. Increasingly, company managers are finding that their employees appreciate working for organizations that they feel do work with tangible positive benefits. The goodwill engendered by socially conscious practices builds enthusiasm and loyalty among clients and customers while drawing the the most innovative and forward-thinking talent.

Since 2008, Pfizer has been using altruistic rewards to motivate employees, experimenting with business models that aim to combine social responsibility with profit driven production. Through their program “Global Access,” Pfizer gives unprecedented access to medicines and healthcare via a self-sustaining business model. Ponni Subbiah, the director of the program, details how the program served as a rallying point for employees to become motivated about making advancements in drug production and delivery. “People wrote me saying ‘I really want to be part of this program’,” says Subbiah. “Many emails simply stated ‘I’d be glad to help on my own time; I can work on weekends or I’d be willing to work in the evenings’.”

Employers that offer their workers an opportunity to volunteer in ways that best utilize their individual skills are most likely to cultivate engaged and enthusiastic employers through their efforts. In this way, employees feel acknowledged for their skill set while also benefitting from the sense of well-being engendered by volunteer efforts. By using volunteer opportunities to foster positive thinking among their workers and appreciation among their communities, companies can expect to benefit from the widespread goodwill and loyalty that create the most successful and admired organizations.

Realized Worth works with companies to engage employees in corporate citizenship programs. Email us for more information here: contact@realizedworth.com.

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