It pays to work for a company that pays you to volunteer
Being of service to others can also help you get ahead in your career.
There’s only one thing better than doing a good deed, and that’s getting paid for it. Offering employees paid time off to volunteer is becoming an increasingly popular perk in the corporate world, and both businesses and employees are feeling the benefits.
Not only does paid volunteering get you out of the office and into your community, but it also provides you with a chance to see your co-workers and company in a new light.
To learn how you can maximize the benefits of your volunteer experiences, Monster spoke with companies that offer paid time off for volunteering and the employees who eagerly participate.
You’ll feel good about where you work
The biggest benefit to paid volunteer time—aside from the benefit to those you serve, of course—is likely the impact it can have on your morale as a company employee. There’s a sense of pride associated with volunteering as a representative of your company. From an employee perspective, it feels good to know you have the opportunity to make a difference through your work.
Additionally, a company that emphasizes volunteer work usually is trying to put forward a culture of caring.
One example of that is Timberland, a manufacturer and retailer of outdoor wear based in Stratham, New Hampshire, which has offered its employees paid time off to volunteer since 1992. The company’s Path of Service program provides employees with up to 40 paid community service hours each year. Since the program’s initiation, the spirit of service has become palpable inside Timberland headquarters, and giving back has become a core part of their company culture, says Atlanta McIlwraith, senior manager of community engagement and communication.
Similarly, Salesforce, a cloud computing company based in San Francisco, says its paid-volunteer program, 1-1-1, has seen a participation rate of 82% from its 20,000 global employees.
Ebony Felix, senior vice president of philanthropy and engagement at Salesforce, says volunteering is embedded into the corporate DNA, noting that every employee is given seven paid days off, or 56 hours, to volunteer.
“Part of our onboarding process is to arrange large-scale volunteer activities for new employees,” says Felix, “so from day one, they do something that introduces them to our culture.”
You’ll get to hone new skills
Employees who have used their paid time off to volunteer report that their experiences taught them new skills and solidified their work ethic. Choose a volunteer opportunity that will push you slightly outside of your comfort zone. At Timberland, the organized volunteer projects are employee-led, which provides team members with opportunities to gain new leadership and project management skills that they may not have had experience with otherwise.
Danko Barisic, manager of business development of NuStar Energy in San Antonio, personally benefitted from spending his time off volunteering with United Way through NuStar’s Loan Executive Program, which sends one employee per quarter to volunteer for a three- to five-month period. Barisic says he learned direct skills in giving presentations and pitching to groups of five to 100 people.
You’ll strengthen your team and grow your network
Grab a group of co-workers and go as a team—you may find you’ll work more productively with your colleagues afterward. Employees at Salesforce occasionally volunteer in groups, and Felix notes managers have reported an improvement in teamwork because volunteering alongside one another helps co-workers see each other in a new way.
“It gives you a different understanding of how a co-worker operates,” says Felix. “Managers see their team members bonding, and even though conversations about work happen, it’s from a new perspective.”
Additionally, if your company offers organized volunteer activities, you may have the chance to met new people within the company, at all different levels, whom you otherwise never would have met. Doing an activity together gives you a chance to build an authentic connection with them. And hey, you never know—you could one day find it very useful to have a friend in payroll or the CEO’s office.
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