7According to the Corporate Leadership Council, employees with lower engagement levels are four times more likely to leave their jobs than those who are highly engaged.  But the importance of employee engagement isn’t just increased employee retention; it’s also about higher productivity.  One study by HR strategy firm Kenexa found that of 64 organizations studied, the organizations with highly engaged employees achieved twice the annual net income of organizations whose employees were less engaged.

One of the most powerful ways to engage employees is by helping them engage with the world.  Employee volunteer and giving programs have increasingly become the gift that keeps giving – to communities, employees and companies alike.

And employees are noticing.  For example, check out these employee engagement quotes about the effect of corporate volunteer programs:

“There are two things that stick out to me most about my recent opportunity to be a part of the Starbucks Google+ Hangout. Having the chance to share my heart and passion for community service having only been a partner for seven months was awesome. The second is that my love for community service is greatly encouraged by the company I work for. It was an amazing opportunity, and I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to continue the conversation over the importance of community service. In anticipation for the conversations still to come, I want to explain how I prepare to serve my community, and other communities….I love what I do, and I am constantly grateful that I work for a company that is dedicated to community service.” —Curtis Monaghan, Starbucks


“For our volunteer work, my sister and I teach three, six-week sessions of Ceili (Irish dance) classes throughout the year. We also coordinate the dancing portion of monthly Ceilis held at a local Irish pub, and hold the occasional advanced Ceili workshop, complete with potluck dinner.  Having the volunteer benefit through Tom’s of Maine means that I get to help one of my favorite local organizations keep Irish culture alive in Maine, in a way that ultimately keeps my dance skills in check… while also being a lot of fun!” –Bridget,Tom’s of Maine Community Manager


“I was just hired as the new West Coast Regional Sales Manager and my actual start date at Honest isn’t until August 5, but once I heard about this volunteer opportunity I absolutely wanted to be involved.  I brought along my husband and one of my girlfriends, and we all had a fantastic time volunteering for Baby2Baby and learning about its mission, while also meeting so many down-to-earth Honest employees. I’m so grateful to be involved with a company that champions such an important cause and look forward to many more volunteer opportunities in the future.” –Queenie, Retail Sales Team, The Honest Company


“I’ve been working with the Special Olympics here for six years. We’ve tripled the number of employees who’ve volunteered since my first year, and employees even use their own vacation hours to do this. We’ve raised around $20,000, including company matching. And this year’s Spring Games will be the biggest ever, with 240 athletes signed up.  We teach these kids to try to win, even though it’s not what’s most important. These are people who don’t often have opportunities to compete like many of us do. And as much as they love competing, I have to say that I feel like the lucky one, getting to work with them.”   –Dave McAndrew, Southern U.S. Distribution Center, Gap Inc.


“To be able to help prepare and serve meals on a cold and rainy morning for more than 120 people brought tremendous joy.  It was rewarding to be able to see how my effort and time truly went a long way that day.”  –Michel Khouri, District Manager for Banana Republic


“Grassroots volunteerism has acquired a new dimension. The younger generation actively seeks to support causes that have the potential to bring about a positive change in the communities they live in.  Many have also shared that due to regular volunteering, they have become more patient and sensitive to others, and understand others better.”  –Archana Raghuram, director of Outreach, an employee-driven CSR programme at Cognizant.


Lisa Eriksson manages vendor relationships for U.S. Bank, but on this day she’s the French toast lady. If the bank didn’t give her this opportunity, Eriksson says, she’d never volunteer.  “I’m a mom — a full-time mom and work full time. And so, having this added into my day has been a great thing.  When we start seeing the faces of the people we’re serving, everyone’s very happy and grateful. It’s a very human side of it. It’s pretty emotional…It’s really a nice thing to know that the employer you work for is so invested into the community.  It feels very good.” –Lisa Erikkson, U.S. Bank (as told to NPR)


You might think the simpler way to placate workers would just be to pay them more. But Jason Averbook says “fun” often outweighs pay.  “If I like what I do, I’m excited about getting up in the morning, I like the people I work with, I’m gonna stay, even if my merit increase is not what I expect it to be.” –Jason Averbook, Human Resources consultant, Appirio (as told to NPR)


“It was fun to interface with employees outside your department, which brings a different perspective to the project.  It was also very rewarding to watch the children learn about all the different things that engineers do and get excited about their future.” –Teri Adsit, Fort Collins Community Affairs Liaison, AMD


“Hands-on volunteer projects like painting and landscaping are always valuable. But with Schwab employees contributing their professional skills and intellectual capital to help solve complex business challenges, they are really upping the ante in terms of the value they bring to the table – and ultimately the impact they can have,” –Danielle Holly, chief executive officer of Common Impact, Schwab


“The return for the nonprofits is substantial, but it’s also good for Schwab because it helps our employees innovate in a different environment, reframe problems, and bring back new ideas.”-Amanda Lenaghan, a program manager for Schwab Community Services


“The very moment that I picked a name from the giving tree was the moment I felt a part of a child’s potential joy. I could just imagine the little girl smiling as she reached for goodies out of the bag I filled…feeling pretty in her new clothes…warmth and comfort with her soft new blanket…connected to her mom as she reads her bed time stories from her new books…clean and rejuvenated with her Honest body wash. All of this came to me as I delicately folded her gifts into her gift bag – I was excited for her to feel like it was Christmas in July because it’s the joy all children deserve to feel every day!” –Jacqueline, Client Services Team, The Honest Company
Also read:

Letter to a CEO: The Surprising View in the Mirror

Corporate Philanthropy Takes More Than Technology

A Fallen Hero’s Legacy Endures Through Corporate Philanthropy

Download Causecast's Case Study  on Corporate Storytelling