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Volunteerism, Business Purpose, and Daily Work: Finding Meaning in What You Do

I was working on an entry for Sustrana’s online Project Selector database over the weekend. The project is entitled: Offer paid volunteer time as an employee benefit.  The concept is simple, and the benefits can be huge:

  • Improved employee productivity and engagement
  • Enhanced employee attraction and retention
  • Positive company reputation in the local community
  • A “rising tide” for the community that can float a lot of boats

Companies can allocate some philanthropic dollars to cover the paid time. The returns on this are great triple-win WIIFMs for a company, employees, and the community.

But it struck me that there could be a lot more to this than meets the eye.  Paid volunteer time could have a much bigger payoff.  I say this in part because of an article I read about how KPMG connected what people do at work with greater purpose.  Here’s a sample of what happened when KPMG worked on persistently verbalizing these connections:

“On our annual partner survey, 90% reported that the higher purpose initiatives increased people’s pride in KPMG. Scores on our employee engagement survey rose to record levels as well. Less than six months into our Purpose initiative 85% of employees agreed that KPMG is a great place to work, up slightly from 82% a year earlier; after a year scores on this same question rose to 89%. Additionally, 60% said our purpose initiative strengthened their pride in KPMG and our work. This improvement in morale also resulted in KPMG surging 17 spots on FORTUNE magazine’s annual 100 Best Companies to Work For list, making us the number one-ranked Big Four firm for the first time in our history.”

Wow.  All from showing people how they make a difference and why their work matters.  I’m thinking there could be similar ripple-like rewards for companies that connect employee volunteerism to working on solving significant world problems.

Stick with me here.  There are three recent events that will help connect the dots:

The first four – out of seventeen – SDGs are:

  1. No poverty
  2. Zero hunger
  3. Good health and well-being
  4. Quality education

All of these things – poverty, hunger, health, and education – are fodder for volunteerism.  All of these goals are local – everywhere!  And, none of these goals will be achieved without lots of people around the world thinking globally and  acting locally.

So as we head into the season of gratitude and giving, take a look at how your business can be a force for good.

  • Give employees lots of reasons to be proud that they work for your company.
  • Make sure you connect on how the work you do in volunteerism, philanthropy, and your core business has greater meaning.

If you can‘t relate your core business to supporting the four SDGs called out above, take a look at the other thirteen.  I’m pretty sure you’ll find something your team can feel good about in their everyday work lives as well as where they volunteer!  All you need to do is talk about it.

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