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United Way Blog

Romanians Boosting Employee Engagement Through Volunteering

I had the great opportunity to travel to Bucharest to attend the 10th annual conference of the HR Club, the association of human resource professionals from many of the largest companies throughout Romania. Some 450 Romanians attended, and those I met were very interested in  building employee volunteer programs that help attract, retain and motivate the best and the  brightest.

I was excited to lead a session and share insights on boosting employee engagement with a special focus on millennials, which will comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025. No matter where they work, most millennials (roughly ages 20-32) consider their job as a means for making a positive change in the world. The Millennial Survey 2014 by Deloitte found that “Millennials who frequently participate in workplace volunteer activities are far more likely to be proud, loyal and satisfied employees compared to those who rarely or never volunteer.” In addition to making employees happy, employee volunteer programs (EVPs) make good business sense. EVPs strengthen teams and develop leadership and other skills. Research shows firms that link a company’s core competencies to community success out-perform their peers.

During the session we had a spirited discussion about how HR professionals in Romania and around the world are devising ways to satisfy the desire of millennials and others to advance the common good through our work. Providing a continuum of opportunities to get involved in small steps that eventually lead to deep engagement is important to millennials, as is being able to use their skills. I shared an example of successful employee volunteer engagement from United Way Romania, which brought 300 employee volunteers together with 500 at-risk youth for the country’s largest Scrabble event on United Way Day of Action 2014. This provided the chance for volunteers to see how easy it can be to show young students how learning can be fun and how education is so important to long-term success.

Another highlight from the conference included a keynote delivered by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith who shared an approach that helps employees take responsibility for increasing their own engagement in addition to what a company can do. 

It is heartening to see the work happening in Romania, as well as in Taiwan, Australia, and many other countries.  Serious discussions on volunteering as a strategy to increase and deepen employee engagement are happening around the world.