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Virtual volunteering: Not just a good deed, but a must to boost employee morale

The pandemic has taken a toll on our mental health and, as a result, many companies are struggling to maintain employee morale. Virtual volunteering could hold the keys to this and much more

Nearly 90% of respondents in a Deloitte survey said volunteer activities contributed to a "better working environment" Due primarily to COVID-19, corporate volunteer hours in 2020 fell by 58% versus 2019 Millennials and Gen Zs are looking for more ways to contribute and virtual volunteering can achieve that for them

The pandemic has taken a toll on our mental health and, as a result, many companies are struggling to maintain employee morale.

Volunteering. Employer-sponsored volunteer activities like virtual mentoring programs don’t just provide a morale boost, they can also lift the workplace atmosphere and improve brand perception, reports Quartz. Nearly 90% of respondents in a Deloitte survey said volunteer activities, when supported by work, contributed to a “better working environment overall.” 

Benefits of volunteering

Many believe that volunteerism is essential to employee well-being but it is a proven method regardless whether it is for employment purposes or other needs.

The psychological benefits of volunteering are well documented. Volunteering has been associated with reducing depression, stress, blood pressure and anxiety, while increasing self-confidence and self-worth. It is proven to delay or even reverse the decline of adults’ cognitive functions. 

In education, volunteering as a mentor “who encourages a student’s goals and dreams” could be the single most important factor in whether a college student graduates and finds career success, according to a Strada-Gallup poll.  

The UAE hs recognized the value of volunteering. With nurses and general practitioners being in high demand across the UAE and to tackle the Coronavirus, the country launched a national volunteer campaign in April 2020 that registered more than 1,000 volunteers that included retired doctors, students, general practitioners, psychiatrists, and nursing staff in just a few days.

MENTOR, a mentoring organization in the education field, was recognized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Pathways Portfolio when it recently received a $500,000 grant

Read: 6 unique tips by which to battle employees’ mental health issues

Read: Employee ownership, a growing global trend, is starting in Saudi

Employee virtual mentorship

While keeping safe physical distance might discourage hands-on and group volunteering, there is still an opportunity to provide virtual support.

With virtual, skilled-based volunteering, you can enable employees to continue to serve.  

Some important facts demonstrate the importance of corporate volunteer programs, even and especially during challenging times.

1. Traditional corporate volunteer hours are currently on the decline.

Due primarily to COVID-19, corporate volunteer hours in 2020 fell by 58% versus the same period of the previous year, as tracked by employee engagement platform Bright Funds.

2. Volunteer Time Off (VTO) is growing in popularity as an employee benefit.

Nearly one in four companies now offer paid time off for their employees to volunteer.  

3. Volunteering can improve your health.

Altruism is good for your employees’ health. Volunteering can improve your employees’ mental health by reducing stress and combating depression. And studies show volunteering correlates with a 24% lower risk of early death.

4. Volunteering can double as professional development to grow employee skills.

According to a study conducted by Deloitte, 92% of human resource executives agree that volunteering increases leadership skills among employees.  

5. Volunteering promotes workplace engagement.

Employee volunteering is linked to greater workplace satisfaction and engagement, according to research from the University of Georgia. The study found that employees who volunteered “gave more time and effort to their jobs, were more willing to help their colleagues, and talked more positively about their companies.”

According to a Forbes opinion piece, COVID-19 forced organizations to take a hard look at how they conducted their volunteering programs.  

It offered unique advantages that virtual volunteering offers over the traditional setup.

What are the benefits of virtual volunteering?

1. The comfort of choice:

With traditional volunteering comes limitations concerning causes and geographies. At times, opportunities conflict with work schedules or might require volunteers to drive long distances. Virtual volunteering helps transcend these challenges. It opens a diaspora of opportunities more aligned to their skill sets that employees can contribute to.

2. Catering to the surge in the sense of responsibility:

People, especially millennials and Gen Zs, are looking for more ways to contribute, a demand that can be met only through the countless opportunities virtual volunteering can bring.

3. Boosting employee morale remotely:

Well-managed programs can truly create phenomenal opportunities for employees to engage. Furthermore, it serves as a relief to the ever-increasing issues of employee burnout resulting from long working hours.

4. Ease of tracking and reporting:

With activities managed online, it is easier to measure the effort and time put into volunteering through metrics such as volunteering hours and funds allotted. Businesses now find it easy to organize events end to end and generate comprehensive reports.