Employee volunteer programs attract job applicants, says study

New research from Volunteer Canada says that potential employees care about having a volunteering culture in the workplace.

Volunteer Canada's research says Canadians value volunteering in the workplace

Companies that need help attracting and retaining top talent may want to boost volunteerism in their workplace. New data from Volunteer Canada says that when choosing between two companies offering similar jobs, 68 per cent of Canadians would choose the company with a stronger volunteer culture.

The report says 87 per cent of Canadians believe volunteering to be vital for society and the economy, which may explain why they would prefer a company that encourages volunteering.

"They want the expressed values of the company to align with their own," Paula Speevak the president and CEO of Volunteer Canada told CBC.

Speevak said offering a range of community participation options for their employees is another way of caring for them, much like having a fitness centre or offering child care.

She added that it's a way of supporting a person's "wholeness and wellness" rather than only caring about the skills that they bring to work.

"Those are the kinds of things that really speak to people in terms of, 'this place really thinks of all of me,'" she said.


For companies who want to recognize their employees who volunteer, Speevak said it would be good to broaden the definition of volunteering.

There are people who choose to help out in ways that don't fall under the traditional realm of volunteering, like helping neighbours shovel or being a coach for a kids soccer team. There are also people who develop apps and start social enterprises to help those in need.

"If a workplace that — in promoting volunteering — only focuses on formal, then a lot of people who are now choosing to give in other ways, in less formal ways, would kind of feel like what they do doesn't count, or isn't recognized, or their employer doesn't know about it," Speevak said. "That can create some frustration for people, or some feeling of exclusion."

Including people other than employees in volunteering initiatives can also build morale, according to Speevak.

For example, allowing staff to involve their family members on volunteering days can be a good way for staff to have more family time. Companies can also consider reaching out to retired employees. Those who have worked for a company for decades may appreciate the call.

"It's really great not to feel cut off or feel isolated, and this is a nice way to stay connected," she said.


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