Employee volunteering programs with ambitious participation rates may not be generating value for the company. Worse, they may even be creating a negative culture.
1. Why Participation Matters
Among CSR and corporate community investment teams, the most important measure of success for employee giving and volunteering programs is typically participation rates. Why? Because the general belief is that a good employee volunteering experience can either enhance existing job satisfaction levels or compensate for work that may be viewed as mundane or not meaningful. And the research supports this belief:
“In general, employees’ desire for meaningful experiences grows from their positive work experiences and translates into increased volunteering. At the same time, the nature of the interaction between job and volunteer meaningfulness provides support for the compensation lens. Employees who report lower levels of meaningfulness in their jobs may also increase volunteering to the extent that it provides the desired sense of meaning.“ [Rodell, 2013]
Either way, this is a win. Employee volunteering and giving programs improve employee satisfaction and performance. Additionally, despite the concerns of some, the research demonstrates that these programs don’t distract employees from their day jobs.
It is then reasonable to suggest that a high participation rate in employee giving and volunteering is a good goal in and of itself.
Or is it?
There are some very real dangers to pursuing the goal of high participation in your companies CSR and citizenship programs without considering whether people “feel” it was their voluntary choice and free of workplace pressure.