Why More Companies Should Offer Skilled Group Volunteer Opportunities

Evidence from Cause, Influence & the Next Generation Workforce: The 2015 Millennial Impact Report.

Yes, I am a millennial. Not only that, but after reading the recently-released 2015 Millennial Impact Report, I realized: I am the spitting image of a typical millennial.

Tess Srebro
Spitting image of a typical millennial.

And I’m here to tell you what I –and my generational peers- want from our corporate volunteering.

But first, let me take you back. In 2008, I eagerly accepted my first full-time, non-summer-break job, in a field only vaguely related to what I studied in school.

The job itself was high pressure, leading to many sleepless nights. The hours were long: 50+ office hours per week; tied to the blackberry 24/7. However, I had the most amazing group of co-workers, whom I loved dearly and who made my day fun.

Yes, I had the constant, nagging feeling that I wanted to do something else, something… more meaningful. But I ended up staying at that job for 3 years, before finally seeking out that meaningfulness.

Why? My awesome co-workers, that’s why.

 “Bonds with co-workers was one of the biggest factors that made Millennials want to stay at their company for more than three years.”- The 2015 Millennial Impact Report

Co-worker BFFs_1
Me with my co-worker BFFs.

The report goes on to show that the influence of co-workers might be deeper than we once thought. Check out these surprising stats:

  • “27% of millennial employees said they are more likely to donate to a cause if their supervisor does; while 46% of employees are likely to donate if a co-worker asks them to.
  • 77% of millennial employees prefer to volunteer with groups of fellow employees, rather than doing cause work on their own.”

The report goes on to say that during its studies; it found that “Co-worker relationships not only influenced cause participation, but that these relationships also contributed to long-term happiness at work.”

The report also backs up what many of us have been saying for some time: Corporate volunteers want to use their specialized skills to make a difference.

I was recently speaking with a friend, who works for a successful tech company, about his company’s volunteerism. “It’s a waste to have people who are making $50 an hour spend their time packing boxes at a food bank,” he says. “If we could find a way to donate our skills to an organization, everyone gets more value out of the interaction,” he says.

While that may be true, I’ve also heard from others at this same company that doing team activities like food bank sorting offers valuable team-building and bonding opportunities.

How do employers reconcile this push for skilled volunteer opportunities with the parallel desire for group and team-building opportunities?

It’s actually very simple. Group volunteer projects that use your employees’ specialized skills.

There are plenty of opportunities for group volunteer activities that involve skills. If they don’t already exist, you can create them. For example, skilled-volunteer employees at Appirio complete pro bono tech projects. And employees at MUFG Union Bank venture out together to teach financial literacy.

If you’re struggling to find your company’s fit, start by offering variety. Offer volunteer time off so that employees can choose their own ways to get involved with their skills. Offer company-led group volunteer outings to get people’s minds off work for the afternoon, even if it’s not skills-based. Most importantly, listen to employees. Find out how they want to get involved, and make that possible.

Remember, co-worker bonds lead to employee happiness and retention. Both the Millennial Impact Report and my personal experience show this. So why wouldn’t you take advantage of this easy way to build co-worker relationships?

Learn how VolunteerMatch Solutions can support your company’s group volunteerism.


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