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United Way Blog

Engaging Employee Volunteers

Civic engagement is on the rise in corporate America, according to the results of the 2013 The Civic 50 survey. More businesses are giving employees the opportunity to volunteer with community organizations and finding that it simultaneously increases their bottom line and employee satisfaction. The survey also found that 88 percent of companies are including community involvement as a component of employee performance reviews, up slightly from 84 percent in 2012.

And a 2013 Chronicle of Philanthropy survey found that while more than 100 of America's biggest companies have made modest increases in their giving, many businesses are pouring new energy into finding ways to provide volunteers and other aid.

United Way is at the forefront of helping companies find new ways to engage employees in volunteering. United Way of the Quad Cities, for example, engages more than 1,000 John Deere employees in United Way’s annual Day of Caring. In 2012, United Way planned projects for nearly 350 Deere leaders who came to the Davenport, Iowa area from around the world. Over the course of one day, the Deere volunteers participated in a large-scale clean-up of the grounds of an at-risk youth program; freshened up classrooms with new paint; put the final touches on a STEM lab (science, technology, engineering and mathematics lab); and facilitated a mobile food pantry in a low-income neighborhood. Currently United Way is working with the company to create custom opportunities for their employees to align with John Deere’s corporate social responsibility strategies, increase employee satisfaction and involvement in the workplace, and, of course, create positive community impact.

When the UPS package center in Dover, New Hampshire wanted to cultivate a deeper and more meaningful connection with their community, the first call they made was to United Way of the Greater Seacoast. Children’s literacy was an issue the employees wanted to get behind, and as participants in United Way’s “K-Ready Reader” program, UPS employees receive training to be the best readers they can be. United Way produced this clever video to recruit volunteers, and coordinated a "boot camp" at the package center, teaching volunteers how to read to small children, work the room and generally become a superstar of children’s circle time. Currently, four to five UPS readers head to Dover Children's Center on alternating Fridays to ensure they can cover each other's shifts. UPS also has supported the Center with warm clothing drives, a donation of Mother's Day roses for the kids to give to their moms and a "special delivery" of backpacks and books as part of United Way's literacy drive, “K-Ready Kids.”

What’s good for your community is also good for your company. Volunteering can strengthen work teams, boost morale and build camaraderie among employees. I hope you’ll contact your local United Way to explore how, through volunteering, together we can reach out a hand to one and improve the condition of all.