Organizations with high employee engagement are 20-25% more productive than companies with lower engagement in the same industry. Employee disengagement is considered to be a top threat in the business world, but a threat whose effects can be mitigated through effective employee volunteering programs.
An employee volunteering program is not only beneficial to the business but also helps nurture a positive work environment. They boost the retention rate of employees and help develop their professional and leadership skills. Some of the other benefits of employee volunteering programs include better collaboration among co-workers, opportunities for growth and development, and greater self-awareness.
When setting up your employee volunteering program, or even taking a step back for a second to look at your current programs, it is essential that you understand the basic tenets that motivate people to volunteer. A better understanding of those reasons helps to set up programs that are in tune with employee motivations.
Let’s look at the reasons why people volunteer and Benefits Of Volunteer Work:
The desire to help others is cited as the main reason to volunteer. The act of volunteering is a reward unto itself and also an opportunity to give back in tangible ways. But even when the motives are altruistic these actions serve to satisfy important social and psychological goals that act as motivators for people to keep volunteering. The goals could be to improve human resources, prestige, and fulfillment of a social contract.
The decision to volunteer is driven by a mixture of “pure” and “warm-glow” altruism. The former being where a person will sacrifice their time for another without consideration of personal gain and the latter states that the volunteer receives utility from the act of giving, i.e., getting a positive emotional feeling from helping others. Here, the visibility of the action acts as a motivator to volunteer.
Developing human capital helps employees find better opportunities, retain jobs and aids career advancement. Improved human capital denotes a better set of skills, greater knowledge, and motivation that provides economic value to the firm.
Moreover, it helps employees retain and sharpen old skills. As job duties change from time to time, employees may not be doing the same thing and volunteering is a good venue to keep those skills sharp. For example, if you’re working as a career counselor, consider motivating your employees to volunteer as a university advisor. This will help them in their counseling work as they will know of the current trends and interests among students.
Expand Professional Networks
Volunteering opens doors to an array of like-minded people with whom your employees can connect. It gives them a chance to develop deep connections, gather insider employment information and develop great references. It helps them boost their career as they can meet professionals who will provide inspiration, mentorship, and connections. Thus, motivating them to work harder at their current jobs to get ahead.
For example, for people working in the healthcare sector, volunteer work at a counseling center, homeless shelter, crisis helpline center, hospice, or any setting in need of human services will help in expanding their networks and improving human capital.
According to sociologist D.H. Smith “Participation is generally greater for individuals who are characterized by a more dominant set of social positions and roles, both ascribed and achieved.” Examples of dominant positions include middle-aged people, members of several formal groups, highly sociable people, long-term residents, high in formal education level, high-income groups, and high in occupational prestige. These characteristics are associated with the need for affiliation, belongingness, gaining prestige or self-esteem, a way of making friends or social benefits – all factoring in as dominant motivators for volunteering.
The dominant status encourages people to take up volunteering as they have the economic resources to take part in such activities. For lower status individuals, things such as transportation, time off work, or other direct costs to volunteering act as barriers to involvement.
People enjoying a dominant status have a better sense of civic responsibility and their strong background reduces psychological barriers by increasing confidence or competence in social interaction. For example, they view volunteering as a dissipation of a symbolic good, i.e., reinforcement of socioeconomic status.
In the opinion of psychologists, personality traits play a big role in volunteering. Volunteer participation is higher for individuals with more efficacy, empathy, morality, emotional stability, and ego strength — all indicators of a social orientation. For many people, a prime motivator is the values that they carry. Volunteering enables people to act on their values and be true to themselves, giving people an opportunity to express their beliefs and pass it onto others.
Personal attitudes affect volunteer participation. The attitudes held towards a particular group of people, if positive, will result in more participation and vice-versa. It is also found that when a person sees the role as satisfying and its activities as interesting there is greater involvement. Attitudes about the rewards received are significant. For example, perceived benefits and fewer costs of participation will motivate employees to volunteer. Less obvious reasons for volunteering are perks obtained, working with celebrities, health, fitness and travel opportunities.
Apart from this, volunteering in adulthood is also related to early life experiences such as taking part in student government, team sports, being active in a religious group, or having parents who volunteered. The impact of these experience increased the likelihood of participation (volunteering) by 20%.
According to sociologists Booth and Babchuk, situational variables (cognitive assessment of the situation) influence volunteer participation. They found that volunteering was strongly influenced by personal contacts and personal influences. Being asked to volunteer (created situation) would increase participation rather than suggesting it. For example, having friends in the workplace motivate people to take part in volunteer programs.
- Get your employees to volunteer by tapping into their motives.
- Present the program in the form of an incentive. There is greater participation when a person gains something in return.
- Make sure that your employees know what they gain in terms of their professional life.
- Keep social factors in mind while presenting an employee with a volunteering opportunity.
- Give your employees the program that matches with their personality traits.
- Effectively convey the overall benefits gained.
- Create situations to increase participation.
In the long run, understanding the motivations behind why employees volunteer help companies nurture a culture where employees are more engaged with their work and happier about their personal lives. Happy employees work better and stay committed to their jobs, a win-win situation for both the employer and employee.