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Marchon Partners Blog Workplace Trend: Community Service and Activism

28 Oct 2022

Employers who are taking an active role to make a difference in their community are often sought after by top candidates. Because many employees are looking to work for a company that is compassionate and wants to make a positive impact. By learning how to balance community service and activism in the workplace, many companies are embracing this trend to be considered an employer of choice.


What is community service and activism in the workplace?


Employees and managers will typically engage in community service to use their time and skills for the benefit of others. These activities can include several different types of charities or issues that are important for promoting an active response to an issue. Some examples of group projects include:

  • Helping to build homes for families
  • Serving hot meals to the homeless
  • Planting trees to restore forests
  • Distributing boxes at a food bank
  • Facilitating a neighborhood cleanup

These volunteer projects are part of a company incorporating their environmental, social and governance principles also known as ESG as defined below:

Environmental – How much impact does a company have on its environment, including the amount of waste it produces, energy usage and gas emissions.

Social – How a company addresses the health, safety, diversity, equity and inclusion in its workforce. Other factors can also include community impact and employee engagement.

Governance – How a business views the policies and leadership that govern the company. This includes processes for whistleblowers, auditing, and good ethical practices.


Why is this workplace trend important to many new hires?


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Generation Z, many who are urging the ESG model, are projected to become 30% of the entire workforce by 2030. Since this generation will be almost a third of the workforce, the way companies conduct themselves will ultimately shape the work environment for everyone. Investors are also considering how a strong ESG could be a better financial risk as was reported by Garter in 2020, who found 85% of investors considered ESG performance for their long-term investment strategy. 

With this new awareness, finding the right career opportunities that engage employees while allowing companies to demonstrate their leadership and compassion are qualities Generation Z are seeking now. Some of their reasons for embracing ESG include:

  • They want a good job that also aligns with their values – Many in this generation grew up during both a recession and pandemic, prompting them to seek out a stable and ethical company where they will be both appreciated and valued as a person.
  • They are willing to move on if it’s not a good fit – Considered to be a proactive generation who are focused on achieving their goals that align with their lifestyle. In addition, many have already shown a willingness to job hop to find the right employer.
  • They can adapt easily to new situations – Growing up with technology and constantly accessing it to verify information, makes this generation unafraid to adapt to new situations or start their own side business as a viable alternative.

According to the 2021 annual Global Capital Confidence Barometer survey, 97% of CEOs agreed societal and environmental changes had a critical impact on their companies. Also, according to SHRM, 47% percent of U.S. companies in 2022 offered the benefit of community volunteer programs.


How companies are incorporating these practices into their business


Points of Light Foundation found that approximately 60% of businesses see the beneficial effects of implementing an employee volunteer program. However, there are best practices for ensuring the program is sustainable, including:

Setting clear objectives – Besides providing employees a way to contribute, employers also have to make sure their community partner is benefiting from the program. Researching both and getting specific feedback from employees is a good starting point to help ensure success.

Getting manager approval – Once the ideas are identified, then the logistics of the program need to be worked out with all the managers. Especially those who will be directly impacted for the time an employee is absent to do their volunteer work.

Choosing a community partner – Choosing a non-profit or charity that isn’t controversial is usually the best choice for including employees to participate. By choosing a neutral cause, that appeals to the majority of people, will help retain volunteers.

Evaluating and celebrating goals – Understanding the number of volunteers, the time and money donated, are all important to calculate the effectiveness of the program. Recognizing the efforts of all the volunteers with a group celebration is also a good way to engage them.

Volunteering beyond company projects – Employees who help with company projects, are often inspired to volunteer on a regular basis. Some companies will offer Volunteer Time Off (VTO) which allows employees to take additional paid time off in order to volunteer.


Benefits for employers who are embracing this new trend


Having a workforce that is highly engaged is 21% more profitable, according to the Gallup’s State of the American Workforce report. In addition to increasing overall retention, engaged employees also tend to experience a safer and happier workplace. Which usually translates into healthier lifestyles that are less stressful and more balanced.