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Giving: It’s the most meaningful transaction.

Love the idea of giving back, but worried that a volunteer activity will cause too much disruption to business? Think again. When your team takes the time to volunteer, their efforts pay dividends—not just in the community, but throughout your organization.

 

Volunteering helps build soft skills, says a recent Fast Company article. But when sponsored (and encouraged) by an employer, charity work engages employees. That analyst whose eyes were glazing over during the morning meeting? Give him a chance to build a home with Habitat for Humanity, and you’re likely to notice sparks flying next week.

 

When employees are more engaged, you could see benefits that range from greater productivity to lower turnover. Surprisingly, employees say they even feel healthier. Of adults in the U.S. who volunteer, 76% say it makes them feel healthier, while 78% say it lowers their levels of stress, according to a study from UnitedHealth Group.

 

But with all the good it has to offer, there’s a downward trend in volunteering. In 2013, the rate of Americans who volunteer dropped by 1.1 percentage points to 25.4%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s the lowest volunteer rate in eleven years.

 

How can we turn this around? It’s time for companies to step up. And we aren’t just talking the talk. Last year, we created a “Brand Ambassador” program that has strengthened employee volunteerism globally. In fact, over 400 brand ambassadors lead our charity efforts. These employees bring life to our goal of “making the everyday easier” by hosting volunteer events around the world. They feed families and help teenagers build robots. They donate blood and write letters to soldiers. They make life safer for disadvantaged children and help provide horse riding therapy to disabled adults and children.

 

 

During our annual “Big Give” drive, we celebrated the launch of NCR’s refreshed brand with dozens of volunteer activities that gave back to our communities, from working at food banks to mentoring youth. In 2013, NCR employees gave 17,052 hours of their time to charitable causes.

 

Want a few ideas from other companies? U.S. Bank employees can use up to 16 hours of paid time every year to volunteer, reports NPR. Hewlett Packard focuses on skills-based volunteer opportunities, which may have another effect on employees, such as promoting them to a better job, says Forbes.

 

How do you make volunteering a part of your business? What difference do you notice in your team?