Upsides of workplace volunteer programs revealed in Deloitte survey

Some interesting findings in Deloitte's latest volunteerism survey – particularly what it reveals about millennials in the workplace. As the largest portion of the workforce in the U.S. today, it's important to understand what it will take to inspire a  commitment to volunteerism in that generation. This survey offers some clues. – Philip Bane


Deloitte's 2017 Volunteerism Survey conducted in May interviewed 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18+, employed full- or part-time, who have volunteered in the past 12 months. Its objective was to explore how employed Americans view volunteerism in the workplace and their understanding of the impact and benefits to communities, self and business.

A number of interesting findings were revealed in the survey, including:

  • 89% of respondents believe companies that sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall working environment than those who do not
  • 70% say that volunteer activities are more likely to boost employee morale than company-sponsored happy hours
  • 77% say volunteering is essential to employee well-being

However, just 38% of respondents indicated that their employers provide access to company-sponsored or coordinated volunteer programs.

"It appears that many employees understand the value of volunteering and have the desire to do more, but they aren't reaping the full benefits," said Doug Marshall, managing director of corporate citizenship at Deloitte LLP. "Employers have an opportunity to build on their volunteerism programs by creating a culture that celebrates volunteering and empowers volunteers to be more active."

Understanding the impact
One way businesses can encourage more volunteering is by explaining how employees efforts benefit the community, Deloitte suggests. For example, 75% of millennials said they would volunteer more if they had a better understanding of the impact they could make. That compares to 61% of all respondents who felt that way.

Businesses can also let employees know how volunteering benefits them – beyond the "halo effect" that comes with active volunteering.

In a Deloitte Impact Survey last year, 80% of hiring influencers indicated they believe active volunteers move into leadership roles more easily. Yet in this year's volunteerism survey, just 18% of respondents said they believe volunteerism can enhance their career opportunities, although 36% indicated it can help them develop new skills.

A purpose-driven workforce
"As businesses continue to find new ways to retain and attract new talent, and establish a more purpose-driven and engaged workforce, they should consider how they can better incorporate volunteerism into their culture," Marshall said. "It's a potential solution from which businesses, professionals and communities can benefit, while supporting employees' personal and career development, and boosting their sense of well-being."

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This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.

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