How Can Volunteering Build Employee Engagement?

This post was originally published on Volunteering is CSR.

The first time I ever volunteered, I didn’t really “volunteer,” in the strictest sense. It took some nudging.

I’d been working as a reporter at a small newspaper, and wrote a nice feature story about a woman and young girl brought together by Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS).

After the story had been published, the local program director gave me a call and thanked me for all the kind things the article said about BBBS.

“You know,” she said, “we could really use more men in the program. And since you think it’s so great…”

My first thoughts were, “Wait, wasn’t I already helping out by writing the story?” and, “I’m way too busy for that.”

Putting My Time Where My Mouth Was

But I knew she had me. It was time to put my money, or at least my time, where my mouth was. Shortly afterward, my wife and I signed up for the program and got paired with a little brother.

That was more than a decade ago, and we still see him on a regular basis.

Connecting Volunteerism, Community, and the Workforce

What surprised me most about the program was how much it affected not just the life of our little brother, but our lives as well.

It connected me to my community in ways that I had never been, gave me a bigger sense of purpose, and showed me the value my extra time could have.

Lately, I’ve been writing about employee engagement quite a bit, and I keep coming across information showing that volunteering as a workforce can do wonders for improving it.

At first, I didn’t get the connection, but the more I read, the more it makes sense.

Engaged employees go a step beyond what’s required of them. They don’t just do the bare minimum. A big factor in their willingness to do this is whether they believe there is a larger purpose — a meaning — to their work.

Giving Employees a Sense of Purpose

Put a group of your employees together and make it easy for them to volunteer, and it’s no surprise that they’ll start to develop a sense of shared purpose.

In my experience, that sense of purpose tends to rub off on all aspects of your life. When you do work that has a clear big-picture purpose, you start to see how everything in your life that makes it possible to do that work has meaning and purpose as well.

Engaged employees present many benefits to employers. They have fewer sick days, fewer accidents, and are more productive.

But I think that’s beside the point. Having a sense of purpose and finding meaning in your work is the point. If volunteering as a workforce just gives you that, it’s already worth it.

Want access to hundreds of thousands of volunteer opportunities for your employees? Meet the VolunteerMatch Network.

Author Bio: Paul Peters is a content marketer and job ad writer with Betterteam. Before that, he spent 6 years building an education startup and was involved with many aspects of the business, including hiring.