Corporate volunteer programs promote corporate social responsibility and provide staff members with a sense of value while furthering a better life/work balance.
Successful employer-supported volunteering programs lead to better employee engagement in the programs and their work. In turn, employers can expect a boost in productivity and better employee retention.
According to studies by Deloitte and others, companies offering volunteering programs are more attractive to job seekers. In other words, socially responsible employers are always in high demand.
Successful corporate volunteer programs have several things in common:
a focus on what matters to employees instead of prioritizing the personal preferences of top management;
don't pressure employee participation creating a so-called "mandatory volunteering" that, instead of motivating staff, creates stress and job insecurity;
offer a wide variety of volunteering programs aligned with their employees' interests and values;
offer international volunteering initiatives and opportunities.
Corporate Volunteer Program Examples That Work
Successful corporate volunteering programs deepen the ties with local communities, foster social responsibility, improve a company's reputation, lead to better employee engagement and productivity, and finally, unlock a world of opportunities for both employees and companies. Here are several corporate volunteer programs examples that worked in the past:
Frontiers spontaneous employee-driven activities
Frontiers is an Open Access Publisher and Open Science Platform with offices in the United States, Spain, China, United Kingdom, and Switzerland. They organize spontaneous employee-driven activities monthly, and they manage to engage with this approach 59% of their employees. While their programs align with the company's mission "healthy lives on a healthy planet," they also encourage employees to find local opportunities they can sustain.
For example, in 2020, the Frontiers employees in Switzerland volunteered for Legumes Perches, an urban community garden program based in Lausanne. The program was a success, benefitting the community and the employees. Here are some takeaways:
Volunteers enjoyed light physical activity while giving back to the local community.
Volunteers met with other volunteers and local activists and learned about urban gardening and sustainability.
They coordinated and maintained open communication with other volunteers, thus improving on these skills needed to run an office.
Learned how much research and planning goes into urban agriculture and how important these kinds of projects are to the community.
Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures
For Bright Smiles, Bright Futures, Colgate employees reach out to children worldwide, offering oral health education, free dental screenings, and treatment referrals. Colgate volunteers partner with parents, teachers, governments, NGOs, dental professionals, and health professionals during this corporate volunteer program to ensure the initiative's success. Such partnerships improve communication and teamwork, all necessary in the office too. Working with others enhances productivity as well. The program's success is evident: Colgate volunteers have helped over one billion children since 1991, and they hope to reach two billion children by 2025.
Patagonia is a clothing company with a corporate volunteer program that offers volunteers several opportunities to make a difference. Some of their programs include, among others:
Fair Trade: providing factory apparel workers with tangible benefits that improve their lives. For example, health care, child care centers, money to purchase produces they could not otherwise afford, and foster a dialogue between workers and management.
Regenerative Organic Certified Programs: switching from industrial and chemical farming techniques to organic and low-till practices that build healthy soil and draw carbon back into the ground. The goal is to get people and animals working together to restore the planet's health.
The variety of the programs aligns with diverse interests, encourages participation, and draws results.
In a nutshell
These corporate volunteer program examples show that participation is high when the incentives are right and the results meet the expectations.
Only corporations that offer opportunities that align with employees' interests and engage their employees can run successful volunteering programs.
And lastly, corporate volunteer programs are beneficial for companies and staff equally, promoting dialogue, a better work environment, and a positive outlook overall, all while making a meaningful contribution to society and the future.