Enhancing Workforce Quality
In order to meet the demands placed on today’s business, companies must recruit and retain work forces that are highly skilled, deeply committed to the organization, creative in their solutions to problems, willing to assume responsibility, effective as team workers, and healthy in body, mind and spirit.
Management has long recognized that volunteer programs are highly effective in creating, recruiting and retaining such a quality work force.
According to a Minnesota executives survey, employee skills significantly enhanced by volunteering include verbal and written communication skills; organizational and time management skills; “people” skills – caring, listening, negotiating; accountability and assessment capacity; planning, budgeting and allocation skills; and survival skills such as stress management and setting personal priorities.
The surveyed executives also stressed the importance of the beneficial attitudes fostered by volunteering, such as increased understanding of coworkers and respect for diversity; more innovative approaches in responding to difficulties; enhancement of calculated risk taking; heightened appreciation of the benefits provided by employers; an enlarged sense of community and social obligation; greater appreciation for contributions from all levels of the organization; affirmation of personal capability and worth; development of habits of pride and responsibility; and positive resistance to feelings of isolation and alienation.
“Sooner or later the company’s culture and habits will represent the society as a whole. If that society is to be caring, efficient and responsible, its corporations must model that behavior. Volunteer activities promote these behaviors and play an important role in building a livable society.”
A sample of executives canvassed for the National College Graduate Survey on Volunteering listed, among others, the following professional benefits resulting from volunteering:
- new business contacts;
- experience in strategic planning;
- experience in working with different constituencies;
- better understanding of social patterns;
- better understanding of government policies and regulations;
- the opportunity to work with leaders and others in the community.
Another significant finding concerns the health benefits derived from volunteering. In one survey of more than 3,000 volunteers, over 90 percent reported that regular volunteering produced feelings that alleviated stress-related symptoms. Other health benefits reported included strengthened immunity and relief from certain chronic conditions.
Companies that sponsor volunteer programs find that doing so helps attract and retain high caliber employees. Tizziana Weber, manager of community relations at United Technologies in Hartford, has observed that “people from MIT and Wharton ask about volunteering and community service. We have to be able to show our involvement.”
An IBM-sponsored study of 156 companies has found that employee morale is up to three times higher in companies actively involved in the community and that such companies enjoy a better ROI, ROA and higher employee productivity. A survey of 5,000 employees at Pacific Northwest Bell revealed a statistically significant relationship between volunteer work and job satisfaction and organizational commitment. And a study conducted by Chivas Regal found that job loyalty is greater in companies that are active in the community, with 51 percent of the workers stating that their loyalty to the company would increase if they knew that the CEO volunteered.