This post was sponsored by Deloitte as a part of a larger editorial package. It went through our normal editorial review process.
An increasing number of businesses are discovering that volunteerism is an important part of their corporate social responsibility program. It's not only good for the local community and improves the corporate brand, but it's a powerful tool for increasing engagement in the workplace.
Yet a surprising number of employees in today's marketplace don't realize that their volunteer activities can lead to career opportunities and valuable on-the-job training. In a recent survey conducted by Deloitte Services, only 18 percent of respondents said they considered volunteerism to be a career-maker. Barely twice that amount saw volunteer activities as a way to gain valuable job skills.
Among corporate leaders, "there is a very strong belief, not only in Deloitte, but across corporate America, that [including] volunteerism on your resume... improves hireability," said Doug Marshall, managing director of Deloitte's Corporate Citizenship According to last year's survey, more than 90 percent of hiring influencers said they felt volunteerism can build skills. More than 80 percent said they would definitely hire candidates with volunteer experience.
Yet according to last year's survey of employees, only about 30 percent of job and advancement seekers make that volunteer work a part of their resume or curriculum vitae.
"So there is a disconnect between what employers think about the effectiveness of volunteering for the individual and how the individual sees it," said Marshall, who suggested that corporations may be sitting on a gold mine of opportunities to develop and enhance corporate citizenship opportunities within their workplaces.
"I think there is an opportunity for companies ... to do a better job of helping to educate our employees about the benefits of volunteering to them and making it more attractive and making it more accessible to them." He pointed out that research shows doing so helps tailor the very skills that are needed in a growing workplace.
While employee engagement wasn't a specific part of this year's survey, Marshall said that previous surveys, both by Deloitte and by other firms, have confirmed that employees feel volunteer programs help engage in the workplace, the teams they work with and the company's personal values and brand.
But the real indicator to companies that corporate citizenship programs speak to a brand's reputation is what applicants say motivated them to put in their employment application in the first place.
Eighty-nine percent of respondents in this year's survey said they believed companies that organize and support volunteer opportunities offer a better working environment than those who don't. Seventy percent said that volunteer initiatives are more likely to boost employee morale than other activities like company-organized happy hours.
What's more, volunteerism, said 74 percent of respondents, enhances the employee's sense of purpose.
"Seventy-five percent of millennials [say] they would volunteer more if they understood the value" their contributions had on others, Marshall said.
At Deloitte, millennials comprise 57 percent of the workforce, and many are now in leadership positions. Marshall said the corporation hires thousands of workers a year, and that segment of the workforce helps shape the company's -- and the marketplace's -- understanding of what is intrinsically important to potential candidates.
Education and college readiness are key topics in Deloitte's Impact Day events, but volunteers have also participated in a broad selection of other initiatives that directly impact the needs and resiliency of their respective communities. Marshall said the topics are organized by volunteers, and anyone can suggest programs they feel would benefit from volunteerism.
"[The programs] are typically led by volunteers for volunteers in their local community, and that way people have a lot of leeway to find things that they are passionate about and that they can get other people passionate about to go do."
Marshall said the true takeaway from this year's survey results is underlying message that millennials are delivering when they say they don't volunteer as much as they would like. Sixty-nine percent of the respondents this year said that they don't have enough time to volunteer during the day; 75 percent confirmed would likely volunteer more if they understood the true person-to-person impact their philanthropy makes in their community.
"There are things that companies can do to help employees see that value," said Marshall and in so doing, shape the impact they have in the communities that value their brand and their success.
Images: Courtesy of Deloitte Services
Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.