27 May

Community service and volunteer programs are not just about giving back; they are powerful tools for professional development. According to a 2023 global survey by Edge Research for Ares Management, employees who volunteer through employer-sponsored programs report significantly higher job satisfaction. Beyond fostering goodwill, these programs are instrumental in developing key skills among your team. Here’s why volunteer programs benefit your organization and five steps to get started.

Benefits of Volunteer Programs for Skill Development

 Leadership and Project Management: Organizing and executing volunteer activities often require planning, coordination, and leadership. Employees who take on these roles gain valuable experience managing projects, leading teams, and making strategic decisions. 

Communication and Interpersonal Skills: Volunteering frequently involves interacting with diverse groups of people. This helps employees improve their communication skills, learn to navigate different social dynamics and enhance their ability to work collaboratively. 

Problem-Solving and Creativity: Many volunteer projects present unique challenges that require creative solutions. Employees learn to think on their feet, adapt to changing circumstances, and develop innovative approaches to problem-solving. 

Empathy and Emotional Intelligence: Working with communities and individuals in need fosters empathy and strengthens emotional intelligence. Employees become more attuned to the needs and perspectives of others, which can enhance teamwork and customer relations. 

Time Management and Prioritization: Balancing volunteer activities with regular work responsibilities helps employees sharpen their time management and prioritization skills. This experience translates into better efficiency and productivity in their daily roles. 

Five Steps to Start a Volunteer Program Focused on Skill Development 

Identify Relevant Causes: Choose causes that align with your company’s values and provide opportunities for skill development. For instance, mentoring programs can enhance leadership and communication skills, while environmental projects might improve project management and problem-solving abilities.

 Leverage Employees’ Strengths: Match volunteer opportunities with your employees' skills and interests. For example, if your team has strong technical skills, consider partnering with organizations that need IT support. This ensures that volunteers can contribute effectively while developing their expertise. 

Allocate Resources and Support: Secure the necessary resources, including time and funding, to support the volunteer program. Work with senior leaders to ensure they understand the developmental benefits of the program and are willing to invest in it. 

Provide Training and Guidance: Offer training sessions to prepare employees for their volunteer roles. This might include workshops on leadership, communication, and project management. Partner with nonprofit organizations to ensure the training covers specific needs and expectations. 

Encourage Leadership Involvement: Get senior executives to participate and support the program. Their involvement boosts credibility and provides a model of leadership and commitment for other employees to follow. 

Monitoring Progress and Celebrating Success 

To maximize the benefits of your volunteer program, it’s essential to monitor its impact. Track participation rates, skill development outcomes, and employee feedback. Celebrate successes by recognizing volunteers in company communications and offering small rewards. 

By focusing on skill development through community service and volunteer programs, companies can create a win-win scenario: positively impacting the community while cultivating a more skilled, engaged, and satisfied workforce. With careful planning and execution, these programs can become a cornerstone of your organizational development strategy. 

Our Deep End team is here to help you strengthen or launch this program as part of your development strategy. Contact us at hello@deependstrategies.com.