As we roll into March and spring finally feels within reach, the season for outdoor activities begins anew – and with it comes a wider range of volunteer opportunities. From participating in runs/walks for a charitable cause to park clean-ups and more, spring tends to inspire people to get out and “do.”
As we’ve discussed before, employee volunteerism is a critical part of any corporate responsibility program, and activities should be tied to your overall strategy and focus areas. Offering your employees the option to volunteer can boost brand loyalty, enhance recruitment and increase employee morale. And while one-day community service activities like those listed above should certainly be a part of the mix, it’s also important for employees to engage in consistent, ongoing volunteer activities throughout the year.
One example of a valuable, ongoing volunteer activity is serving on community boards. At most companies, this activity is more common among the higher-level or senior executives, who can offer a wealth of experience, expertise and community connections to a non-profit organization. However, community board service shouldn’t be limited to those already established in their career and community. The young professionals entering today’s workforce – namely, Millennials – are giving rise to a new generation of employees who are more focused on community consciousness than ever before.
Research shows that many Millennials actively seek out companies with a strong commitment to corporate responsibility. But it’s about more than simply adhering to these values or participating in volunteer events and activities. According to The 2012 Millennial Impact Report, 77 percent of Millennials surveyed are interested in becoming involved in volunteer leadership with a non-profit, wanting to see more opportunities to lead on boards and committees. However, the report found that only 20 percent of those surveyed currently serve on a board or committee.
As a Millennial young professional who does serve on a community board (the Associate Board for William Byrd Community House, a local non-profit in Richmond, Va.), I highly encourage other young professionals to seek these kinds of volunteer leadership opportunities, which benefit not only the individual but the company, the non-profit and the community as well. Here are five reasons why young professionals should serve in a leadership role with a non-profit organization:
- Development – Serving on a community board can help develop and/or strengthen valuable skills that can be applied in the work place, such as communication, collaboration, time management, multi-tasking, strategic thinking and leadership skills.
- Networking – From junior board members to the board of directors to other members of the community with ties to the non-profit, board service offers a great networking opportunity for young professionals just beginning to build their careers and place within the corporate community.
- Company-Community Ties – Board service is a great way to build ties between your company and the community, and, in some cases, your younger employees may have more time to offer to non-profits than your higher-level executives. Plus, if these company-community relationships are formed early in the employee’s career, they have the potential to last for many years to come as the employee remains at and moves up within the company.
- Setting an Employee Volunteerism Standard – If the young professionals at a company become ingrained with this sense of community service early on, they are likely to carry it with them throughout their careers. As they move into higher positions within the company, they will set a standard for volunteerism and community involvement that future generations of employees can follow.
- Community Engagement – Many young professionals are at a stage of their career in which they can choose to work – and therefore live – wherever they want. Serving on a community board gets them more deeply engaged in the community overall, which increases their likelihood to remain in that city. And as this USA Today article explains, capturing Millennials/young professionals and convincing them to stay is vital to the health of any city.
Which of your employees are more involved in the community – the young professionals or the higher-level executives? Does your company offer and/or support employee volunteerism opportunities? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo credit: alumni.buffalostate.edu