Trusting Teams to Drive Volunteer Engagement

Employee Engagement, Employee Volunteering, Transformative Volunteering, Volunteer Engagement

During the pandemic, employers grappled with “The Great Resignation.” Now they find themselves contending with “Quiet Quitting,” where folks actively disengage from a role when the company doesn’t live up to its end of the engagement contract or when employees have reached their limit and decide to simply do the bare minimum instead of subscribing to “hustle” culture.

According to Purpose Under Pressure, 91% of employees say that their company’s purpose can make them “feel like they’re in the right place,” primarily in times of economic uncertainty, which continues to be the name of the game in 2022. And according to Gallup’s 2022 State of the Workplace report, 85% of workers are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work. How can we make these two ends meet?

These trends have quickly become part of the corporate reality as companies wade through seemingly endless challenges to successful employee engagement (it’s one of the many reasons we developed Social REV, but we’ll tell you more about that further down). Instead of being reactive to these employee movements, how can we get ahead of the curve and proactively embrace a sense of shared purpose to support meaningful engagement that encourages folks to thrive in their roles even during challenging climates? One way that’s proven successful is bringing employees together as part of a team with a shared purpose.

The Value of Being a Part of The Team

Think back to when you thrived on a team – everyone and everything humming along at a nimble pace, seemingly tearing down obstacles to create a unified front. Maybe it’s the team of colleagues you’re currently on, or perhaps it’s your high school soccer team that surpassed all odds and took first in the league. These iterations of successful teams sing, with everyone putting their best foot forward to achieve the goal as a unit. It can be hard to leave those types of teams, given the shared experience and incredible feeling of team “flow.”

We know that teams can have the power to make or break the employee experience. They can be essential in keeping employees engaged, allowing them to feel supported and often fully seen as a whole human. One way to nurture this sense of team is through a shared volunteering experience. How can we start building special volunteer teams that encourage volunteers to commit to and connect with your company’s purpose?

The Critical Components of Effective Teams

It starts with understanding the critical components of effective teams (and teaching these components to your volunteer leaders!). A study conducted by Google revealed five key dynamics that set successful teams apart from others. Coach your volunteer leaders to take the time to walk through each of these dynamics with their team members and establish some ground rules to create an environment conducive to great teamwork.

The five key dynamics are:

1) Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?

2) Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high-quality work on time?

3) Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?

4) Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?

5) Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?

Connecting Corporate Purpose to Personal Meaning

Volunteer experiences must be more than simply checking a box stating you completed the hours or planted 1,000 trees. While these actions are incredibly valuable and can fill some gaps in our communities, they do little to move the needle toward fulfilling employee engagement.

It’s critical that these team volunteering experiences help employees explore what it means for them to be directed by a sense of meaning and personal development. Employees need to be encouraged to explore the connection between the volunteer work their team completed and their own unique sense of purpose. Without this sense of personal meaning, team volunteering is likely just a fun afternoon out (and that’s OK, sometimes!). From there, Volunteer Leaders can encourage employees to explore the connection between personal meaning and the company’s purpose and where the two converge (or don’t!). These components can start to come together when Volunteer Leaders learn to take a Transformative Approach to volunteering and know how to guide employee volunteers using three Keystone Behaviors (Check out behaviors #5, #6, and #7 here).

One important side note: as you trust and empower your Volunteer Leaders to take on this role, you’ll be able to take a step back and elevate yourself. The key to a sustainable, scalable Social Impact program is to stop doing and start multiplying by empowering the right people to lead your volunteers, giving everyone space (including you!) to live into their highest level of contribution. That’s why we created Social REV, giving you access to tools, frameworks, research and support from our experts to empower your team and elevate yourself – all towards creating a meaningful, measurable and scalable Social Impact program.

Natalie Norton

Strategic Consultant

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Connecting Employees with Trust

How can we start to build teams that foster reliance on each other while offering new and exciting ways to engage? According to a 2020 article titled Capabilities of Corporate Volunteering in Strengthening Social Capital,[1] trust is essential in the fabric of a team. Trusting that your employees do the right thing can set your program miles ahead when it comes to engagement standards and allows volunteer teams to define a sense of shared purpose together. Volunteer Leaders are likely eager for the opportunity to take the steps needed to build their teams toward the company’s greater purpose. By offering your trust, you’re providing an additional sense of purpose to the team (and giving yourself the chance to take a step back!). Consider supporting the creation of volunteer teams comprised of folks from across your business footprint, which will bring new, diverse perspectives, and lend their talents to each other, not just during a volunteer activity but through fostering a cross-functional mindset.

The Transformative Approach builds Shared Purpose

A shared sense of purpose can help build and increase employee engagement, especially when the right leaders are trusted to rally teams around a shared vision. At Realized Worth, we believe in the power of the Transformative Approach to volunteering and can help you achieve your employee engagement goals in ways unique to you and the teams you’re helping to build. By transforming your volunteer leaders into critical drivers of change, you’ll be able to sit back and watch as your teams grow a sense of belonging, trust, and engagement around your company’s purpose.

If you want a head start on empowering your team or just need a little help, consider joining Social REV. We’ll equip you and your team with all the tools and support you need to build a meaningful program including unlimited ad-hoc consulting calls, access to Backstage with hundreds of Social Impact resources, a ticket to an RW exclusive in-person event (2023), and more! While change can be challenging, Realized Worth is here to help you get started.

[1] Glińska-Newes ́, Aldona and Joanna Górka. “Capabilities of Corporate Volunteering in Strengthening Social Capital.” MDPI Sustainability. 11 September 2020.

Realized Worth helps you take a transformative approach to volunteering. We work with companies to create scalable and measurable volunteering programs that empower and engage employees, focus on empathy and inclusivity, and align with your most important business objectives. Talk to us today to learn more!

Employee EngagementEmployee VolunteeringTransformative VolunteeringVolunteer Engagement

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