Volunteering can spur employee engagement  

By Nichole Cirillo, IAVE Executive Director. Photo courtesy of AXA, Europe.

Making meaning at work

At IAVE, companies tell us all the time how valuable their employee volunteering programs are to keeping teams engaged.

And good thing, too, because according to a recent survey from Gallup, U.S. employee engagement stagnated in 2023, with only 33% of employees expressing involvement and enthusiasm in both their work and workplace. Employees reported feeling more detached from their employers, with lower levels of satisfaction with their organization, less connection to its mission, and less likely to feel someone at work cares about them. This is especially true for workers under 35, who are experiencing the highest levels of disengagement, and in particular, feeling disconnected to the purpose of their company.

Why does this matter? Well, to start with the basics, it’s important that people are able to have work they find meaningful, and that they feel as if the work they do matters. But if you need more reason than this, there’s the fact that un-engaged or actively disengaged employees result in about $1.9 trillion in lost productivity in the U.S. according to that same Gallup poll.

Engaged employees, on the other hand, have higher wellbeing, better retention, lower absenteeism and higher productivity. And Gallup’s same research shows highly engaged teams outperform the rest in business outcomes critical to their success.

One of the things we hear most among our corporate members is how their volunteering programs bring out that sense of purpose their employees crave, how they animate ESG commitments and involve team members in creating a sense of shared value for their company.

One member of IAVE’s Global Corporate Volunteer Council used their skills-based volunteering program to get climate change recognized and validated as a legal reason for asylum. Another company’s volunteering program saw employees staffing the largest COVID-19 vaccination site in the U.S.

Volunteer programs deliver real value and are an important component of what makes companies an employer of choice: one where employees feel connected, inspired, and valued.

To read more examples and best practices, check out our research on corporate volunteering.