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  • Employer-Supported Volunteering: A Triple Win for a Sustainable World

Employer-Supported Volunteering: A Triple Win for a Sustainable World

By Josephine Victoria Yam, J.D., LLM.

2016 July 18

After a decade from its inception, employer-supported volunteering (ESV) is now widely recognized as a way for Corporate Canada to meaningfully engage in local communities. Volunteer Canada heralds this significant development in its newly-released report, “Leading With Intention: Employer-Supported Volunteering in Canada”.

Through the Corporate Council on Volunteering (CCOV), Volunteer Canada and its corporate partners encourage businesses, regardless of their industry sector or size, to support the volunteer efforts of their employees. They believe that ESV strategically enables businesses, their employees and nonprofits to work together to achieve positive societal impacts in the world.

What is ESV?

Employer-supported volunteering (ESV) is defined as any initiative “undertaken by an employer to encourage and support volunteering in the community by its employees.” It usually falls under an employer’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy. It simultaneously aligns with its Human Resources (HR) strategy which covers employee recruitment, retention and professional development. Currently, there are about 4.7 million employees who are supported by their employers to generously give their time, talent and treasure in the communities in which they live and work.

How is ESV rolled out?

Companies, who are serious about creating shared value, support ESV by enabling their employees to pursue causes they are passionate about through a diversity of community engagement initiatives. As the Taproot Foundation’s table illustrates, ESV can the range from giving financial support to employees’ selected charities, to enabling them to provide hands-on volunteering to empowering them to generously share their skills through skill-based volunteering.

Why ESV matters? The Triple Win

Volunteer Canada’s report highlights the compelling value proposition that ESV provides to businesses, employees and the nonprofits involved as they change the world. The report states the following Triple Win that they achieve:

ESV is a win for Businesses because:

 
It strengthens the company’s image, brand recognition and stakeholder relations; 84% of executives at large companies see direct bottom-line benefits from ESV programs
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It results in 26% higher revenue per employee, 13% higher total returns to shareholders and a 50% higher market premium
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It improves employee engagement, leading to improved communication and recruitment, reduced absenteeism, lower staff turnover and increased retention, which generates more than $2,400 in value
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It supports the development of core competencies and leadership skills in employees
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It builds new external relationships and networking opportunities with and between customers, suppliers and clients; 86% of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on business interests
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It helps create an engaged and motivated workforce and a positive corporate culture; Young professionals aged 18-24 who frequently participate in their company’s ESV activities are twice as likely to rate their corporate culture as very positive
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ESV is a win for Employees because:

 
It connects employees and their workplaces to the causes they care about and allows personal and corporate goals to be met
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It provides the opportunity for employees to engage according to their values, personal preferences and motivations, and helps build pride in their workplace
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It allows employee volunteers to build, develop and share their professional and leadership skills
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It builds relationships between work colleagues, between employees and clients
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It recognizes employees for their personal contributions to community
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ESV is a win for Charities and Nonprofits because:

 
It provides them with diversified and specialized skills, expertise and resources that enhance their sustainability and ability to respond to community needs
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It provides them with hands-on service and support that help them accomplish their goals
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It helps them understand how corporate culture, values and core competencies can be leveraged to impact social change
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And the good news is that ESV is perfectly poised to grow in Canada.

Why?

Canada has the second largest and most robust charitable and nonprofit sector in the world. According to Imagine Canada, 2 million Canadians are employed in the sector and over 13 million Canadians volunteer for the sector. The sector provides about 8.1% of total Canadian GDP, which is more than what the retail sector contributes and almost equal to what the oil and gas and mining sectors contribute.

So ESV as an additional strategic approach to impactful corporate community engagement that has now become mainstream is great news indeed.

As Sir Winston Churchill observed:

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

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