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Corporate Sponsored Employee Volunteerism: Options and Impact

Organizations are increasingly being challenged to use their resources, expertise, and insights for the good of society (Porter & Kramer, 2006). The triple bottom line has always encompassed people, planet and profit. Increasingly however “people and planet” are being brought at the forefront of this list (Spreckley, 1981).

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an expected feature of large organizations rather than the novelty it once was (Rupp, 2011; Rupp, Williams, & Aguilera, 2010). It is defined as “actions on the part of the firm that appear to advance, or acquiesce in the promotion of some social good, beyond the immediate interest of the firm and its shareholders and beyond that which is required by law” (Waldman, Siegel, & Javidan, 2006, p. 1703).  When firms engage in CSR, it sends a signal to current and perspective employees and investors and stakeholders that the organization is healthy and will have positive future financial performance (Spence, 1973).   

Corporate sponsored employee volunteerism (CSEV) is a specific type of CSR that has been growing in popularity with large companies and organizations. CSEV is defined as formal, organized support for employees who wish to volunteer in the community (Peterson, 2003). CSEV is a great way for an organization to engage in CSR and signal to future and current employees not only how your organization value’s it’s people, but also the overall health of the organization.

 

The benefits and motivations that come with CSEV for employees can include:

-opportunities to express important values,

-learn more about the world,

-grow and develop psychologically through involvement in volunteering,

-gain career-related experience,

-strengthen social relationships, and finally, to

-reduce any guilt or negative feelings associated with working for a large corporation

 

There are two options for engaging in CSEV: Onsite Vs. Online

The scope (i.e., local, national, international) and subject area (e.g., environmental, social, etc.) can and should be different for each company and the goals they have for the program. Said another way, it is important for an organization to engage with partner organizations for volunteer purposes that align with their organizations ethics and morals.

CSEV has traditionally occurred in person, but a growing trend related to technological advances has opened the door for remote volunteering, or online corporate support for employee volunteerism (online CSEV). In recent years, access to the Internet has become increasingly widespread with an estimated 94% of the U.S. population online (Wang & Wellman, 2010).

Compared to onsite CSEV, online CSEV can more easily include older adults, people with low incomes, and people with physical disabilities. Portals and services have arisen to connect volunteers with online volunteering opportunities. For example, the United Nations sponsors a global effort, the UNV Online Volunteering Service (onlinevolunteering.org).

The bottom line in this case is that engaging in CSR, and in CSEV specifically, offers a multiplicity of benefits to future and current employees while positively affecting various revenue generating components of an organization. Giving back isn’t just for non-profits anymore, folks, and the good news is that the benefit of it is widespread.

 

References

Peterson, D.K. (2003). Benefits of participation in corporate volunteer programs: Employees’ perceptions’. Personnel Review, 33, 615-627.

Porter, M.E., Kramer, M.R. (2006). Strategy and society: The link between competitive advantage and corporate social responsibility. Harvard Business Review, 84,78-93

Rupp, Deborah E. 2011. An employee-centered model of organizational justice and social responsibility. Organizational Psychology Review 1:72–94.

Rupp, D. E., Williams C.A., & Aguilera, R.V. (2010). Increasing corporate social responsibility through stakeholder value internalization (and the catalyzing effect of new governance): An application of organizational justice, self – determination, and social influence theories. Managerial ethics: Managing the psychology of morality (69-88). New York: Routledge.

Spence, M. (1973). Job market signaling. The quarterly journal of Economics, 355-374.

Spreckley Freer (1981). Social Audit - A Management Tool for Co-operative Working. Beechwood College Ltd., UK

 

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