As a leader, you have probably stressed the importance of employee well-being programs for improving the mental health of your employees. According to a study published in the Industrial Relations Journal, that’s not the case.

In the study, it was determined that such initiatives had no real impact on employee mental health. Essentially, all those mental health coaching sessions, classes, apps, and other programs didn’t seem to be working to address the growing mental health problems affecting U.K. workers.

However, there was one exception. And that was volunteering.

And that makes sense. A sense of purpose is key to employee motivation. They must feel that their work matters to the world and their company’s bottom line.

Additionally, volunteer work can improve your mental health by making you feel good about yourself through helping others.

Overall, employee volunteerism is a win-win situation. Employees gain fulfillment and connect with their values, and their communities benefit.

However, how can you, as an employer, motivate your employees to volunteer? Well, here are ten impactful strategies you can try.

1. Champion volunteering from the top.

There is nothing more inspiring than leading by example. Leadership reinforces the core value of giving back throughout an organization by exemplifying their own commitment to volunteering.

In other words, leadership sets the tone — starting with the CEO and continuing down the line. Share your volunteer experiences, participate in company initiatives, and publicly acknowledge employee contributions.

2. Complement company values and mission with volunteerism.

Explain how volunteering aligns with your company’s core values and mission. By doing this, employees become more motivated to volunteer and feel that their efforts directly contribute to the company’s goals.

For instance, if your business prioritizes environmental sustainability, partner with environmental organizations to plant trees or clean up a park. Employees are more likely to volunteer when they see the connection between it and the company’s values.

3. Get to know your employees’ passions.

Rather than just listing generic volunteer opportunities, offer your team a variety of options. Use surveys, skills assessments, or informal conversations to understand your employees’ interests and skills.

Next, offer various options based on interest, skill level, and time constraints. Also, consider joining forces with local non-profits and charities to support causes ranging from environmental conservation to youth education to animal welfare. For employees with geographic limitations, offer virtual volunteering options for individual or team volunteering.

If you need some ideas, SCORE lists ways small businesses participate in volunteer work. Here are some of my favorites.

  • Take part in a larger effort. You and your team can participate in a charity race, donate goods to a charity auction, join a community cleanup day, or organize a food drive.
  • Plan a fundraising event. Almost all community service groups require monetary donations or fund-raising events.
  • Organize an item drive. Support an organization or cause you are passionate about by organizing an item drive. This could be a school supply drive for a local school or a canned food drive for a local food bank.
  • Provide mentorship or training programs. Small businesses can benefit significantly from mentoring or training programs offered to local residents in need.

4. Make it easy and accessible for everyone.

Making the volunteering process simple is key. After all, busy schedules are a reality that can prevent people from giving back.

Therefore, consider virtual opportunities, volunteer days to build teamwork, or after-work projects. Volunteering also based on skills is a great way for employees to contribute their professional expertise. As a result, volunteering is accessible to all, regardless of their skill level or time constraints.

Furthermore, remove potential roadblocks by streamlining the registration process and offering resources like childcare and transportation if possible.

Most importantly, give volunteers paid time off.

Approximately 28% of employers offer paid time off (PTO) to employees who volunteer, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2023 Employee Benefits Survey. On Points of Light’s 2023 Civic 50 – a recognition of companies that are committed to their communities – 82% also offered paid time off for volunteering.

The bottom line is that companies that are more socially conscious tend to support their employees more.

5. Facilitate team spirit.

By organizing company-wide volunteer days, you can foster a sense of community. Participating in a fundraiser, building houses with Habitat for Humanity, or cleaning up a local park may be some options.

Taking part in team volunteering builds camaraderie and trust, improves relationships, and establishes a sense of purpose among employees. As an added benefit, this creates shared memories beyond the workplace.

6. Offer skill development opportunities.

Giving back isn’t the only reason to volunteer; you can also learn and grow through it. Develop partnerships with organizations that offer workshops or training sessions related to volunteer work.

Ultimately, this allows employees to gain new skills, enhance their resumes, and enrich their lives.

7. Promote & celebrate.

Honor your volunteer champions by giving them a shout-out!

For example, consider including employee volunteer stories on your website, internal newsletter, or social media. It is also possible to create a “volunteer board.” This is where employees can share their volunteering opportunities

Overall, recognize and reward their efforts by publicly praising their efforts or giving small tokens of appreciation. You can even let them take on leadership roles. The result? A culture of recognition that inspires others to emulate it.

8. Partner with non-profits.

Build strong relationships with non-profit organizations in your community. As a result, you can create volunteer opportunities tailored to their specific needs. And, this also ensures a mutually beneficial partnership.

Additionally, this opens up opportunities for future collaborations and sponsorships.

9. Measure the impact and share it.

Make sure your employee volunteering programs are making a positive impact. Calculate how many hours were contributed, how many lives were touched, or how much environmental benefit was gained.

Employees, the tangible results of their efforts, morale, and motivation are boosted.

10. Think beyond volunteering.

You can make a valuable contribution through volunteering, but you should also consider expanding your options. Some examples would be to offer opportunities for employee activism, involvement in company social responsibility initiatives, or even micro-volunteering platforms to support community projects.

As a result, diverse interests and engagement styles are accommodated.

Final Words of Advice

With these steps, you can unlock the full potential of employee volunteerism and create a company that will make a real difference in the world. Your team and your community will thrive when you open the door to employees who want to give back.

Keep in mind, though, that this is just the beginning. By combining creativity, dedication, and a genuine commitment to making a positive impact, you can establish a successful volunteer program that benefits your employees, company, and the community.


Why should I encourage my employees to volunteer?

Employee volunteering benefits both your company and your employees in a variety of ways:

  • Boosts employee morale and engagement. As a result of volunteering, employees are happier and more engaged since they feel like they belong.
  • Improves company culture. In addition to strengthening a company’s social responsibility image, giving back creates a more collaborative and positive work environment.
  • Builds skills and leadership. Employees can develop new skills, enhance teamwork, and gain leadership experience through volunteer work.
  • Strengthens community ties. You build positive relationships with local organizations and residents by contributing to the community. By contributing to the community, you build positive relationships with local organizations and residents.

How can I make it easier for employees to volunteer?

Getting rid of logistical hurdles is crucial, such as:

  • Offer paid time off for volunteering. As a result, genuine support is demonstrated and financial barriers are removed.
  • Provide flexible opportunities. Ideally, you want to have a variety of volunteer opportunities. These should based on skill level, location, and time commitment.
  • Make it convenient. Provide transportation assistance and organize volunteering events during work hours.

How can you motivate employees to volunteer?

Don’t forget to appeal to different motivators as well:

  • Communicate effectively. Sharing stories, highlighting opportunities, and demonstrating impact should be done regularly.
  • Offer diverse volunteer options. Adapt to the interests, skills, and schedules of your employees.
  • Recognize and reward volunteers. Regularly recognize team members with public shout-outs, team lunches, small gifts, and opportunities for skill development.
  • Lead by example. For instance, participation of the C-suite in volunteer activities.
  • Integrate volunteering with company culture. Participate in company events, onboarding, and training to promote volunteerism.

What are some common challenges and how can you overcome them?

  • Lack of awareness. Identify and communicate existing opportunities and programs effectively.
  • Time constraints. Consider flexible volunteering options, such as after-hours or during breaks.
  • Skills mismatch. Identify volunteer opportunities that match employee skills.
  • Lack of recognition. Volunteers should be publicly recognized and rewarded.
  • Negative perception. Ensure that workload concerns, pressure concerns, or lack of impact concerns are addressed.

How can you measure the success of our employee volunteering program?

  • Volunteer participation rate. Maintain a record of how many employees participated and how many hours they volunteered.
  • Employee satisfaction surveys. Determine the level of engagement and experience of volunteers.
  • Community impact. Analyze the positive outcomes of volunteer work.
  • Return on investment. Evaluate the benefits and cost savings of volunteering.

Image Credit: RDNE Stock Project; Pexels