Employee engagement is a big buzzword right now. We all know that engagement is essential to a thriving workplace and high-performing employees.

Briefly, here’s a definition from Forbes.com:

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.

 

 

A 2011 Gallup report showed that businesses with high employee engagement enjoy a growth rate of earnings per share 3.9 times that of other companies in the same industry with lower engagement.

Volunteer programs are one excellent way to boost employee engagement. Volunteering is particularly attractive to millennials, who are an ever-increasing slice of the work force. Millennials have much higher expectations to feel engaged in the workplace than most other demographics—it’s important to them to feel like they’re making a difference.

Reduced Turnover

Let’s take a closer look at just one benefit of increased engagement: reduced turnover.

American Charities suggests that the overall US employee turnover rate 15.1%. This includes “healthy” turnover (the departure of low performers), top performers and everyone in between. These turnovers cost money. For jobs paying $75K and less annually, that cost is about 20% of annual salary, so that equals $15K for a $75K job. Say a company has 100 employees in that category. With a 15% turnover rate, they’ll lose 15 per year, at a cost of $15K each. That equals $225K per year. Facing a potential cost like that makes a small investment in employee engagement look like a very smart idea indeed.

Volunteer programs also offer other benefits.

Employee Recruitment

An active program is a great Recruitment tool. Many younger prospective employees may consider an attractive volunteer program a make-or-break benefit when they’re job hunting. Program participants enjoy the dual satisfaction of both contributing to company success and a charitable cause simultaneously. Their sense of greater purpose contributes both to workplace morale and increased productivity.

Increased Employee Purpose

Getting employees involved can increase the commitment they feel towards their job duties and the company they represent. Employee volunteering programs can allow workers to feel that the work they do is not only contributing to the overall success of the company, but that it is also helping out a charitable cause that is important to them. This sense of purpose can lead to increased productivity and higher workplace morale.

Skill Development

Volunteer programs are an excellent way for employees to practice and improve diverse skills, including skills that diverge from their regular job description. Leadership, team dynamics, problem solving and communication are especially noteworthy opportunities for employees to explore while volunteering.

Strengthen Personal Bonds in the Workplace

Group activities such as volunteering can offer a non-hierarchical way for co-workers and their supervisors to connect and get acquainted, resulting in stronger relationships and better mutual understanding.

Employee Recognition

Employees need recognition, and volunteering opens up a whole new arena in which to acknowledge employee efforts and accomplishments.

ROI on Volunteer Programs

If you’re not promoting volunteering among your employees, it might be time to start. Your efforts can range from offering a bit of annual paid time off for volunteering, to orchestrating overseas projects in partnership with non-profits. If you’re concerned about the cost involved, consider that employee turnover, recruitment and training all have a considerably higher price tag, so a volunteer program can actually be a wise financial strategy as well as a charitable act performed from the heart.