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[Source: INEDA, 09.2016 | Keywords: Engaged, Exemplary]

At its core, civic engagement creates bonds among employees, encourages a value-based culture, and increases the overall morale of a business. It creates incredible team building and leadership experiences, gives employees an opportunity to make an impact toward something they are passionate about, and helps employees see their challenges and accomplishments through a different lens.    – Patrick Brandt 

Studies have shown that employees who volunteer often are more engaged and happy at work, because getting out and being active in the community allows them to step away from their day-to-day activities and give back to those who need their help the most. These employees often work harder and stay longer at a job as well.

Today’s youth are growing up with school systems that require community participation, so the need to volunteer is in their DNA. They want to roll up their sleeves and make a difference. And they want to work for a business that believes in the same things they do.

In its Volunteer Impact Survey, Deloitte found that 70 percent of employees between the ages of 21 and 35 strongly favored working for businesses committed to their community. It also discovered that when young workers are encouraged to get out and volunteer, they are twice as likely to say their work culture is positive, and they are more likely to be proud of their work, feel loyal to their employer and recommend their workplace to a friend.

When your employees volunteer, they have the opportunity to share their knowledge and skills, build stronger community ties and become the public face of the company. Other benefits include:

Employee Retention – Meeting and befriending people in the community can help ensure that employees remain at their job in rural communities. An engaged culture in the workplace also improves employee morale, which can result in heightened employee retention rates.

Increased Business – Volunteering can help further networking opportunities and generate leads for new business.

Team Building – When employees volunteer together, it helps build teamwork across departments within a business by giving employees the opportunity to collaborate with individuals they may not have had a chance to connect with in the workplace.

Personal Development – Employees gain valuable knowledge, skills and experience when volunteering that they can bring back to the office. Skills-based volunteering helps employees further develop their management, teamwork, communication, technical and leadership skills.

Increased Productivity – The sense of accomplishment that comes naturally with volunteering is motivating which, in turn, can help increase productivity in the workplace.

While community involvement is full of benefits for both the employee and dealership, it may not happen without a push from you. What can you do to encourage employees to get involved in the community?

Be Flexibile – Give your employees the opportunity to get out and volunteer in the community, should they want to do so. There is no better way to show a dedication to volunteerism than to give your employees the flexibility to participate during the workday. Employees will appreciate the opportunity to do something rewarding outside of their daily work routine.

Provide Paid Time-Off – Offer a set amount of paid time-off for charity work, such as two hours each month.

Coordinate Group Activities – Look for opportunities where your employees can volunteer as a group, such as a fundraiser, the county fair, donating time at a local shelter or a cause that is important to your employees. Let them choose, let them lead, support their cause and join them.

Offer Incentives – Provide incentives to employees who volunteer. For instance:

• Reward the employee with the most volunteer hours with a gift card or a day off with pay.

• Offer employees who volunteer a minimum of 25 hours of their own time to a recognized charitable or community organization [and can document their hours] the opportunity to earn that charity $1 for every hour volunteered by that employee in a year up to $100 maximum from the business.

Lastly, whether your employees volunteer during the workday or on their own time, it is important to recognize their efforts. A face-to-face “thank you,” an informal office social or publicity in a local newspaper shows employees that their efforts did not go unnoticed. These forms of recognition may also help your employees recall why they volunteered in the first place. An annual incentive program for volunteering is also another way to reward employees for their efforts.