Why Community Involvement and Volunteering Make Better Employees

Maggie Wenthe
Maggie Wenthe

Group of employees volunteering for a charitable cause in their community

What makes a great community? There’s not one definite answer. For some, a good community is a tight-knit group of people working toward the same goal. For others, it’s the people you enjoy spending time with.

Regardless of your definition of community, there’s one common thread: people.

People make up your workplace, and the world around your workplace as well. Your team members are inexorably linked to the groups, towns, cities and states around them.

As employers, embracing that fact can help bolster a positive, thriving environment at work. But why?

Here are six reasons why community involvement and volunteering make better employees.

It Builds Loyalty

2017 Deloitte Volunteerism Survey concluded that employees like it when businesses incorporate involvement in the community into the workday. Integration into the community boosts employee morale and helps create a positive working atmosphere. Additionally, findings reveal that millennials who frequently participate in workplace volunteer activities are more likely to be proud, loyal and satisfied employees, as compared to those who rarely or never volunteer.

And that’s no surprise. People want to be a part of an organization that gives back. When people work for a company that values their community and their people on the same level as the company’s financial prosperity, you’ll see impressive loyalty.

People want to volunteer at their workplace. It feels good. What’s more, millennials and members of Generation Z especially appreciate the perk. The importance of community, both inside and outside your corporate walls, will grow along with these youthful generations.

It Makes Work Emotional

When you volunteer or help out around the community, it’s an emotional experience. You see first-hand the way your assistance helps out the neediest people and causes. That emotional tie can lessen tension and increase positivity while on the clock—and companies are starting to understand this.

A recent Fortune article found that the leading employers are finding ways to use charitable efforts to connect employees to their work and ultimately drive a more productive, engaged workforce.

Among 357,000 people surveyed, those who had a positive experience of giving back at work were four times more likely to say their teams were willing to give extra to get the job done. They were also more likely to be brand ambassadors eager to express pride in their employers and to say they want to stay with their companies for a long time.

“It goes deeper than donating to nonprofits or serving on their boards,” said Jonathan Becker, a workplace culture expert and partner at Great Place to Work. “Community involvement is moving closer to the core of what the company does. These organizations are searching for ways to build on their teams’ skills and connect them to worthy endeavors that resonate with what they do at work.”

It Helps People Build Skills

If you’ve ever gone to a happy hour with coworkers after you clock out, everyone’s guard drops. There’s no more talk about projects and reports and clients—it’s just people chatting. And it feels good.

Whenever you interact with fellow employees outside of the constraints of work, you experience them in a brand new way.

More than that, community involvement and volunteering align people around a common cause. Whether you’re at a soup kitchen or a Habitat for Humanity build, working together with coworkers in a new environment helps build people skills and kinship at work.

It Promotes Leadership

Good managers are constantly giving their people opportunities to excel. A manager’s role is to push their team, and if their people are up to the challenge, a good manager will keep giving them opportunities to go further.

Stepping outside of your day job and into a volunteer project affords the chance to learn new professional skills while sharpening others. Some of the highly transferable skills you can strengthen or develop include conducting presentations, public speaking, managing teams, projects and budgets, coordinating events, liaising with sponsors, fundraising and mentoring. If you chair a committee, you can hone leadership skills, and if the group meets remotely, you can sharpen remote team management experience as well.

For savvy managers, community involvement and volunteering affords an opportunity to test the waters of leadership in their people. If your team members can organize a Special Olympics event, chances are enormous that they can excel beyond their current capacity at work, too.

It Attracts New Hires

It might come as no surprise to those who know millennials and Generation Z, but the one employee perk millennials value the most isn’t about getting—it’s about giving. Community involvement and volunteering are helping to attract and retain employees in a whole new way.

In a recent survey, 55% of respondents said that a company’s support for social causes was an important factor in accepting a job offer. The appeal comes not only from the desire to contribute to causes, but from the sense that a company that’s involved in doing social good is likely to be a better place to work. 

As one respondent explained, “If a company cares that much about outside causes, then I know they are invested in treating me right as an employee.”

It Builds Passion

Everyone’s got a passion: pets, sports, families, religion or something else. And giving people the opportunity to dig into that passion while on the clock in a philanthropic way turns passion into engagement. When people are given the opportunity to be involved in their passion—whatever it might be—as a volunteer opportunity at work, they’re doubly engaged.

As Ryan Scott writes in a recent Forbes article, a culture of giving back is not only one of the most inspiring ways to engage employees, it also offers something even better than engagement: worker passion. 

When you build a culture of giving back, especially when you lay out an ambitious agenda for impact, you set the stage for a purpose-filled environment that inspires passion.

Increasing Participation

Building participation in your volunteer and community involvement program can create immense engagement in your company.

With a consolidated platform that motivates and engages your whole team, it’s easier than ever to incent your people to participate in volunteer and community programs that give back to your team—and the world around them.

Find out how healthy company cultures also drive employee engagement and 30 ideas you can try immediately with our Employee Wellbeing Calendar.

Maggie Wenthe

Maggie Wenthe

Maggie strives to help the world understand the power behind personalized motivation that aligns people with business goals to drive powerful results. As the leader of Marketing Strategy at ITA Group, she analyzes market trends to develop world-class solutions that help Fortune 1000 companies motivate and engage their employees, channel partners and customers. She is certified through the Incentive Marketing Association, the Enterprise Engagement Alliance, as well as Pragmatic Marketing Level VI. Between marketing and three little boys, Maggie doesn't have free time. But when she can find a few minutes, she loves listening to audiobooks on marketing, business and sci fi thrillers.