Businesses have key role in creating volunteering culture

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The FINANCIAL — The study, published in the Academy of Management journal, finds that corporate volunteering – where employees are able to volunteer time for community activities – helps cultivate a culture of volunteering for both employee volunteers and non-volunteers.

The authors note that the practice can benefit both employers and employees in a number of ways, with employees from supportive companies reporting a greater sense of pride in their organisation. 

The research analysed two possible processes where a corporate volunteering climate may arise; through ‘top-down’ company-driven practices – when organisations provide employees resources and create corporate volunteering programs to encourage employees to donate their time to an external charity activity – and ‘bottom-up’ processes, where volunteering is driven by employees’ passion for a cause.

The authors found that both processes helped volunteering climates to emerge, but that employees’ passion and employer benefits provided can substitute for one another; if either is strong a resilient volunteering climate has the potential to emerge.

The authors also found that the collective pride that strong volunteering climates engender is related to employees’ affective commitment to their employers. Employees in these environments also had higher intentions to volunteer in the future on their own personal time, when compared with companies with weaker volunteering climates.

These benefits were experienced by both employee volunteers and non-volunteers – which demonstrates strong volunteering climates are not only influential to employees who volunteer, but can spill over to those who are employed but have yet to volunteer. Notably, strong volunteering climates were related to non-volunteers desiring to participate in corporate volunteer programs in the future.

The research also suggests there could be a range of benefits to employers and their employees from corporate volunteering, including employees feeling a greater sense of pride in their organisation, which is likely to endure inside and outside of work.  

In addition, the findings suggest that corporate volunteering could offer an antidote to declining levels of volunteering in society, creating the potential for the corporate world to exert significant social change.

Dr Jonathan Booth, Assistant Professor in the Department of Management at LSE and one of the co-authors of the research, said: “If employers, for whatever motivation, desire their employees to volunteer, employers should put their money where their mouth is by giving staff the time and resources to allow them to volunteer.

“If the employer does not have the ability to provide its people these resources, then the employer could still benefit from a corporate volunteer climate if they can determine the causes for which their employees are most passionate and connect these employees to these charities.

“There are huge potential benefits to employers, their staff, and society. At a minimum, the reputation of the businesses is going to be enhanced, but they will also find that if they allow their employees to engage with the wider community they will find they gain interpersonal skills and social capital, and a greater understanding of the people they work with and the communities they serve.”


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