We all know that tough times are dragging on and unemployment levels remain high. But even the fully employed are, most likely, not fully engaged in their work. In fact, a 2011 Gallup survey shows that some 71% of American workers are not engaged in their current positions, with 19% of the workforce “actively disengaged.” These numbers come close to breaking records, so if employee engagement isn’t something you’re actively developing in your company, you may be underestimating the high price of disengagement.
Replacing an employee can set a company back more than three times the employee’s annual salary, costing the overall economy more than $350 billion every year, according to a Gallup report. The same study showed that engaged organizations have 3.9 times the earnings per share growth rate compared to organizations with lower engagement in their same industry. All of which explains why - according to The Economist - 84% of senior leaders report that disengaged employees are one of the three biggest threats facing their business.
The good news is that companies are discovering a surefire way to increase employee engagement: employee volunteer programs. These programs allow employers to connect with their workforces by supporting charitable pursuits important to their employees.
How does workplace volunteering translate into better workplace engagement?
1. Employee volunteer programs lend purpose and meaning. Commitment to one’s work gives employees a sense of purpose, and companies are learning that an excellent conduit to this feeling is involvement in cause. Seventy-one percent of employees who participated in an LBG Associates survey about employee volunteer programs indicated that they felt more positive about their company as a result of these programs. Many business leaders find that purpose-driven work through cause is linked to boosted morale and productivity, which inevitably affects corporate bottom lines. Organizations are realizing that if you give employees the opportunity to give back, they’ll have a renewed appreciation for the importance of their jobs.
2. Employee volunteer programs are a critical tool for employee recruitment and retention. Employees want to take pride in their work and company, and when they do, they tend to stay. A 2004 Lloyd Morgan survey of 50,000 employees showed that by increasing employees’ engagement levels, organizations can expect an 87% reduction in employees’ probability of departure. Volunteer programs are a superb channel to create an engaged corporate culture that attracts top talent and keeps them on the job. A corporate volunteerism report by Deloitte showed that workplace volunteer programs are important even to those who don’t typically volunteer in their private time; 61% of millennials who rarely or never volunteer would consider a company’s commitment to the community when making a job decision.
3. Employee volunteer programs provide strong platforms for leadership and skills development. An EVP program allows workers to expand skills, build upon strengths and connect with their community. Indeed, 90% of HR professionals agree that skills-based volunteering is an effective way to develop leadership skills. Volunteering can also develop soft skills that are instrumental in a business environment, such as problem solving, mentoring and communications. That’s why these programs are excellent breeding grounds for new talent, allowing a neutral space for employee training and growth at a relatively low cost to the company.
While company EVP strategies may vary, one thing is certain: engaging employees through volunteering infuses jobs with purpose-filled work that increases workers’ chances of remaining happy, productive and loyal.