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Nicole Klemp

If you want to recruit (and keep) top talent in today’s competitive environment, offering a volunteer program to your workers is crucial. Donating corporate dollars or offering gift-matching just isn’t attractive enough to many workers. This is particularly true of millennials, who make up the largest generation in today’s workforce. In an interview with Monster.com, Patrick Rooney, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Research at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy said, “Millennials were raised in an era of volunteerism. They learned growing up that it’s personally rewarding to give back to the community.”

Workers who volunteer are more engaged and productive

According to research by the University of Georgia, workers who volunteer feel better physically and mentally, and are more productive and engaged in their jobs. “Overwhelmingly, employees who volunteered gave more time and effort to their jobs, were more willing to help out their colleagues, talked more positively about their companies, and were less likely to do detrimental things like cyberloaf or waste time on the job,” said Jessica Rodell, Assistant Professor of Management at UGA.

Company-sponsored initiatives show workers (and the public) that a company cares about the greater good, and volunteering as an office or team is a great way to bake in some beneficial team-building time. Taking company initiatives a step further and providing workers with volunteer time off (paid time they can use to volunteer in their communities) is a benefit that can set an organization apart in the talent market.

Looking to build your own community service program? Here are five companies with models you’ll want to replicate:

  1. Stryker

Employees at Stryker — one of the world’s leading medical technology companies — get an entire week (40 hours) of paid volunteer time off each year. They are also a proud partner of Operation Smile, and have provided more than 240,000 free surgical procedures to children to correct cleft lip and cleft palate. Stryker even sent a team of employees to Bolivia (all expenses paid) to work on a project with the organization.

 

  1. Starbucks

With a cafe in just about every neighborhood in America (and beyond), Starbucks has a mission to serve the communities in which they operate. They use their community service program not only to engage their workers in service, but also as a chance to connect community members with their local baristas. From their website: “Throughout the year, our partners (employees) and customers dedicate their time and energy to create positive change in their local neighborhoods. We encourage partners to lead and participate in projects that align to key areas of focus, including support of opportunity youth and transitioning veterans, environmental impact, and alleviating hunger.”

  1. Salesforce

When Marc Benioff founded Salesforce, he committed to donating 1 percent of company earnings, 1 percent of products, and 1 percent of employee time to charitable causes. This 1-1-1 model leverages the company’s people, technology, and resources to improve communities around the world. The company was named third on Fortune’s 50 Best Workplaces for Giving Back list in 2016, and an impressive 97 percent of Salesforce employees say they’re happy with the way the company gives back, and are proud to tell others they work there.

  1. Ford Motor Company

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Bill Ford Jr. founded the Ford Volunteer Corps. The organization boasts over 27,000 Ford employees and retirees, and has contributed over a million hours of service. The program enables Ford dealers and partners around the globe to rally around causes important to their individual communities. One successful initiative, Ford Focus on Child Hunger — a five-state campaign by Ford dealers in the Pacific Northwest — focuses on stocking local food banks with peanut butter and other staples to ensure kids don’t go hungry during the summer months.

 

  1. Lilly

Biopharmaceutical company Eli Lilly formed The Lilly Foundation to improve public education for children in the Indianapolis area (where they’re headquartered) and around the world. The Lilly Foundation focuses on programs that promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, and Indianapolis employees volunteer as “science coaches” for local students. The company also holds an annual Global Day of Service, in which more than 24,000 employees in 65 countries volunteer in their local communities.

Engage workers with a mission

Whatever your worker engagement initiatives may be — philanthropic or otherwise — your workers should be active participants. At every level of the organization, employees want to feel that their contributions impact the overarching company mission. Your workers need to feel that all their hard work means something. Give them a mission, cause, or philosophy they can really get behind.

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