3 Ways to Create Measurable Business Value via Employee Volunteer Programs

It’s definitely time to get started on making your employee volunteer programs more strategic and effective. INPEx recently participated in the 2016 Charities@Work conference, attended by many corporate leaders. The overarching sentiment from the presenters was clear:  There is measurable strategic business value in moving toward more strategic, year-round employee volunteer programs – and companies are looking for solutions to capitalize on this reality. In a couple weeks, at the 2016 Cause Marketing Forum Conference, I’ll share some examples of how technology can supercharge employee engagement growth, along with my esteemed co-presenters Johnson & Johnson’s Susan Can and JetBlue’s Icema Gibbs, at the session facilitated by Realized Worth’s Chris Jarvis: “Making Progress on Employee Engagement Session.”  I hope to see you there!

These 3 tips will help you shift your employee volunteer programs from “same old, same old” to strategic return on investment:

1) Scale up the number of employees participating

A survey of millions of employees across several industries by The Corporate Executive Board (CEB) found that “on average, every employee who participates in corporate community engagement activities adds $2,400 value to the company as a result of decreased turnover and increased employee engagement.”  In a large company, engaging 5,000 additional employees in volunteer programs creates a staggering $12,000,000 in real value.  Smaller organizations can also reap substantial benefits.  Adding just 100 new active employee volunteers creates $240,000 in value for your company.

INPExTAKE ACTION: Corporate volunteerism is a strategic opportunity that creates real business value, not just a “nice thing to do.” If your volunteerism numbers are staying flat, you should be looking at making some strategic changes. Think about what you need to do to inspire and incentivize NEW volunteers (particularly Millennials), not just continuing to engage the same old “reliables” in the same ways year after year – read on for some ideas.

employee engagement value

2) Activate existing corporate partnerships in strategic ways to supercharge your employee engagement growth

Employee Engagement
Johnson & Johnson uses a custom system to proactively engage their employees in their global partnership with Save the Children.

Your company has already gone through a vetting process to select its strategic cause partners and has invested significantly in them.  These partnerships are valuable employee engagement opportunities and marketing assets that can build equity over time.  It is common for cause marketing partnerships, strategic philanthropy, and employee volunteerism programs to be handled by different corporate teams.  Working together to create integrated volunteerism programs is a smart investment that drives ROI in all departments.

INPExTAKE ACTION:  Make engagement with your strategic cause partners easy, relevant, localized, and fun for employees. How? Work with your cause partners to build a custom program that has strategic benefits for your company and your employees such as team-building, relationship building, professional skills development, and elements that appeal to Millennials and support management goals.  Alternatively, you can take on a key role supporting an existing partner program – making sure ongoing employee engagement opportunities are part of the activation strategy.  INPEx’s Tech~Touch® system can help you activate and measure your cause partnerships in thousands of neighborhoods across the country efficiently.

3) Create volunteer programs and communications that improve corporate culture – a key concern of CEOs and interest of Millennials

Corporate culture is important to Millennials and to corporate leadership.  In 2015 a survey of 1,800+ CEOs and CFOs by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, executives reported that corporate culture drives profitability, acquisition decisions, and even whether employees behave in ethical ways. While 92% said they believed improving their firm’s corporate culture would improve the value of the company, only 15% said their firm’s corporate culture was where it needed to be.

A well designed, year-round, always-on community engagement program that is marketed well internally on an ongoing basis can make great strides in improving company culture.  Community engagement activities enable employees to literally experience your company values firsthand.

INPExTAKE ACTION: Revisit your approach to employee volunteer programs with an eye on improving corporate culture. Develop meaningful volunteer programs and communications that build an emotional connection with employees.  Offer an array of hyper-localized opportunities that appeal to key internal audiences and express corporate values.  For example, studies show that Millennials want to volunteer with their peers and they like professional development aspects.  Likewise, managers may appreciate the ability to build local relationships and reputation while improving team dynamics through volunteer projects – so give them the tools they need to do it well!  In sum, invite your employees to be part of something larger and meaningful to enhance corporate culture, measure the engagement and impact – then benefit from the results!

Opportunity or Opportunity Cost

Bottom line (pun intended), employee engagement is a business strategy.  Hosting a couple of company-wide volunteer days a year is nice, but no longer enough to meet the demands of today’s workforce.  Employee volunteer programs should be looked at as strategic opportunities (internal and external marketing) that produce real value.  The key is to think strategically and put systems in place to create efficiencies and that measure success – INPEx would be happy to help you with that!

Image Credit: Employee Engagement

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