United Way
of Massachusetts Bay
and Merrimack Valley

April 20, 2016

It’s Not Just About “Feeling Good”–Employee Volunteer Programs Are Good for Business

Do it for your employees, your customers, your investors or your community – no matter your motivation, everyone wins.

Sure, it feels great to give back. But most companies wouldn’t set aside work time just so that people can feel good. So why else would world-class organizations like P&G, IBM and Blue Cross/Blue Shield put such a high value on employee volunteer programs?

Employee turnover is expensive.

Replacing an employee can cost upwards of a year’s salary when recruiting, training and lost initial productivity are factored in. How do you get good people to stay? Give them opportunities to be recognized and do meaningful work – both within and outside of their core responsibilities. Break down corporate hierarchy and encourage them to forge deeper relationships with their colleagues, managers and subordinates in a day of planting community gardens or stocking food pantries. The more connected they are, the more likely they will stay.

Employee volunteers from Blue Cross Blue Shield

Engaged employees are productive employees.

Research from the University of Georgia Terry College of Business shows that employee volunteering is linked to greater workplace productivity: “Overwhelmingly employees who volunteered gave more time and effort to their jobs, were more willing to help out their colleagues, talked more positively about their companies and were less likely to do detrimental things like cyberloaf or waste time on the job,” said Jessica Rodell, an assistant professor of management at UGA and author of the research.

Boards love it.

It’s quantifiable: the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that an hour of volunteer time is worth $23.07. Fifty employees volunteering five hours each over the course of the year has a value of $5,676.50. These numbers are immediately understandable.

Employee volunteer programs provide on-the-job training.bbhvol

90% of human resources professionals say that pro-bono volunteering is an effective way to develop leadership skills. Volunteering can also develop people skills that are critical to success, such as problem solving, mentoring and communications.

Consumers are demanding it.

Nobody is better positioned to create long-term, sustainable change than businesses. And customers are increasingly steering business toward companies that are socially responsible. According to a 2015 Cone study, 90% of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause, given comparable price and quality.

And of course, it’s good for the community. As Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks famously said:

“It is no longer enough to serve customers, employees, and shareholders. As corporate citizens of the world, it is our responsibility — our duty — to serve the communities where we do business by helping to improve, for example, the quality of citizens’ education, employment, health care, safety, and overall daily life, plus future prospects.”