Thursday, July 12, 2012

Corporate Volunteerism

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Position Paper

Corporate Volunteerism

American workers are being stretched as never before. While the rest of the industrialized world works an average week of no more than forty hours a week and receives three to six weeks of vacation time per year, the typical American worker is expected to work more than forty hours per week and not take more than two to three weeks of vacation per year. Add to the equation family obligations, social commitments and religious activities and it equals one stressed worker. How can this person feed their altruistic side? As large companies are trying to do more with less, and workers are more time-stressed than ever before, corporate volunteerism has allowed companies to give back to the community without increasing the bottom line. Volunteerism is a key component of many companies philanthropic and community affairs programs. Corporate volunteerism can be a triple win helping people in the community while giving employees a chance to shine and benefiting the company in numerous ways.

Due to the tough economy and governmental budget cuts, there are numerous organizations that are in need of both financial and labor help. These groups are also stretched as far as resources go and with the time crunch that Americans are under, it is very difficult to find volunteers to do the work. Many of these charities are helping disadvantaged people who have fallen through the loopholes of government aid such as welfare or are part of the working poor. Corporate volunteerism can help those in the community where the company operates its business. By directing both a companys grant dollars and its employees time and talent to the same causes can sometimes produce results far greater than either could do on their own. It can also help to foster teamwork. Company-sponsored volunteer activities can foster team spirit and allow people to get to know their colleagues outside the workplace.

There are as many motivations for a person’s volunteerism as there are people; giving of your time and talents to help others is one of the most personal acts you can make. But while every individual’s story is unique, they likely share one or more of the following motivations to feel a sense of value and satisfaction, to leave a lasting imprint on society while making a significant difference, to perpetuate a certain viewpoint or philosophy, to give something back to a community, to fulfill a responsibility or desire to be a leader in a community, or to connect with others who share our interests and passions.

Companies reap numerous benefits from employee volunteerism efforts. It can be a recruiting edge as many companies find that a solid volunteerism program can be an important employee recruitment and retention tool. Volunteerism can help a company increase its commitment to the community even in lean economic times when it might not be able to increase its charitable grant dollars. It can also be a good training ground for future business leaders. Volunteer opportunities encourage employees to take the lead.

I am very proud to work for a company that fosters the spirit of volunteering and allows its employees to give back to the community in ways that would not be possible on an individual basis. We are encouraged to take part in at least four events per year and use them as team events to facilitate teamwork outside of the confines of the office. By being able to participate in volunteer projects during the work day, employees feel that they are giving back to the community without stretching their already hectic lives. This not only benefits the community but makes the company more visible to the eyes of its consumers. Corporations have a social responsibility to the community and its stakeholders. When companies become involved with volunteerism, everyone wins.

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