The main goal of volunteering is to help others. But it turns out volunteers also benefit from their charitable activities. Over the years, many studies have shown volunteers experience greater fulfillment, better health, and improved overall well-being.
What's more, having an active company volunteer program can help an organization recruit top talent, improve employee satisfaction and build a stronger brand.
- Volunteering boosts overall health and well-being.
According to a UnitedHealthcare study, 76 percent of American adults who volunteer said they feel physically healthier and 78 percent said volunteering reduced their stress levels. It also found volunteers are more deeply connected to their communities and others. BBVA makes a point of creating opportunities for its employees to volunteer by providing each employee with 16 hours of paid time off to volunteer.
- Sponsoring volunteer programs can provide many benefits for corporations.
The UnitedHealthcare study also found corporations reap many benefits when they sponsor company-wide volunteer programs.
- Improved employee recruitment and retention.
Many companies, like BBVA, have found volunteer programs to be a valuable recruitment tool. In fact, a 2016 Cone Communications study found employees believe their company-sponsored volunteer programs improved the work environment. In the same survey, 74 percent of respondents considered their jobs more fulfilling when given opportunities to make a positive impact.
- Better collaboration between employees.
When employees work together outside of the workplace on projects that generate positive social change, they get to know each other on a whole different level. They gain respect and see each other in a very different light. What's more, volunteering can erase the levels of hierarchy and create a shared sense of purpose among all employees. This, in turn, can translate seamlessly back into the workplace, improving employee relations and collaboration. On average, BBVA employees in the U.S. donate close to 100,000 hours each year.
- Boosts company brand.
A 2017 survey by business strategy firm Accenture reported that 64 percent of the American consumers they surveyed said their purchasing decisions are affected by a company's ethical values and authenticity, and 42 percent have stopped doing business with a company based on their stands on social issues.
Today, consumers want to do business with companies that care. Ongoing, visible efforts to support the community and help others go a long way with today's socially conscious consumers.
What makes a successful company volunteer program?
While every company is different, here are a few key features of successful corporate volunteer programs:
- Inclusive. Programs work best when they provide opportunities for all employees to participate regardless of schedule, skill level, or physical ability.
- Use employee skills. While employees can be satisfied helping update homes in low-income areas, employees often are more rewarded when they use their specific skill set to help others. For example, a bank teaching financial literacy or a law firm providing free legal advice.
- Impactful and ongoing. To help keep employees engaged, they need to see the impact of their efforts. It also helps when programs are ongoing and employees work with the same people or organizations for an extended period of time. This allows them to build relationships and can make their work more fulfilling.
To be successful, a company's volunteer program must be structured to reflect the values and culture of the company and its employees. When it does and employees buy into the program, the rewards for all stakeholders — the community, the volunteers, and the business — can be great.
Learn more about BBVA USA's Employee Involvement Program here.