An active employee volunteer programme is not only a good way to give back to the community — it can also provide returns to the company. Volunteering in Singapore is on the rise, too. According to the 2018 Individual Giving Survey conducted by the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre, volunteerism in Singapore has grown from one in 10 individuals (9 per cent) in 2000 to one in three (35 per cent) in 2016. The study also gave an insight to Singaporeans’ positive attitude towards giving — seven in 10 showed willingness to volunteer. 

Here are five reasons why employee volunteerism is a smart investment.

1. Boosts company culture

Company volunteer events provide a great opportunity for co-workers to engage and interact with one another outside of work. It allows them to develop and nurture positive relationships that go beyond the usual day-to-day work-related interactions. Volunteering together can give them a chance to connect further to forge deeper and more meaningful work relationships, which can encourage better communication in the workplace and lead to an enhanced company culture and increased employee morale.

2. Improved brand perception

Companies that engage in volunteering opportunities also have greater public exposure and visibility, and they often get positive associations from the general public when they are seen giving back or doing good for the community.

It is not just good for the company’s image — its employees will get positive associations as well. Companies regularly seen engaging in volunteer events are also perceived to have better working environment than those that do not.

3. Greater workplace happiness and satisfaction

Numerous studies show that happy people are more productive at work. There are many ways to boost happiness, and the act of helping others is one of them. Providing employees with rewarding and fulfilling experiences such as volunteering can give them greater happiness and satisfaction at work and, in turn, improve their productivity.

4. Attracts top talent

At the core of every great company is its human capital, and retaining good talent requires as much effort as acquiring them. For example, millennials — which will make up almost a third of the global workforce by 2020 — value more than just salary when searching for a new job. They cite opportunities for growth and development as key factors when considering positions. One way companies can attract and retain talent is to engage them with opportunities for professional and personal growth — and that is where having an active employee volunteer programme can help.

5. Good for employee skills development

Company volunteer events can also be a great opportunity for employees to hone their skills outside of their daily work routine. Volunteer events can help employees improve their leadership, communication, problem-solving and, more importantly, their people and teamwork skills. 

We spoke to two CCT tenants to find out how they encourage their employees to volunteer. 

Investing in local communities

Global offshore law firm Harneys, CapitaGreen, believes in investing in local communities, whether it’s through time, money or expertise.

Harneys’ corporate social responsibility activities primarily consist of four focus areas: helping the most vulnerable in their local communities, preserving the environment, promoting arts and culture and investing in young people. These core values guide Harney’s efforts and assessments.

The firm encourages its employees by sourcing volunteer opportunities at a local level and making it known to staff locally. For instance, the company volunteered its time and financial resources to local rebuilding efforts after hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the British Virgin Islands, and contributed to the fundraising for the rebuilding of one of the local schools there.

Employees at Harney’s volunteered their time by wrapping gifts during CCT Gifts of Joy

Meeting the needs of others

Chubb Insurance, CapitaGreen, believes in the long-lasting impact of volunteering and engages in a number of volunteer activities throughout the year. This year, the company received the 2019 AmCham CARES Award for its strong corporate social responsibility programmes in Singapore.

Annually, Chubb organises a Regional Day of Service across its Asia-Pacific offices. Close to 1,000 employees in 12 markets participate in community projects that focus on increasing educational opportunities for underprivileged children. Employees join forces in their collective outreach efforts, which are centred on the theme “Education@Heart”, to meet the needs of local communities where they live and work.

“In 2018, the Singapore branch, together with our Asia-Pacific office, organised a learning journey excursion to a hydroponics farm for the students of Canossaville Children and Community Services (CCCS), a charity we have supported since 2016,” said Scott Simpson, Country President for Chubb in Singapore.

“Last November, we also organised a science workshop for the students of CCCS to bring interactive, experimental and educational learning concepts right to their doorstep,” he added.

That’s not all — employees at Chubb Singapore also launched their own staff-led initiative, #ChubbSGGivesBack, partnering various organisations to do more good for the community. Past beneficiaries include Ronald McDonald House Charities, A Packet of Rice, CapitaLand Commercial Trust (CCT), the Singapore Children’s Society and the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS).

Chubb's employees organised a science workshop for students of Canossaville Children and Community Services during their Regional Day of Service in Singapore | Photo: Chubb Insurance

Choose a cause... or don’t

So, what can companies do to promote staff volunteerism?

Broadly, there are two ways to go about this. The first is to champion a cause that speaks to your company’s shared values and purpose, whether it’s to benefit underprivileged local communities or promoting clean oceans. Alternatively, take a leaf from Harneys and Chubb and encourage staff to source their own volunteer projects or launch their own initiatives. Doing so gives your staff more room to discover their own areas of interest when it comes to volunteering — and they are also more likely to invest deeply in a cause when projects are led by them. 

Chubb's employees brought beneficiaries on a learning Journey to Kok Fah Technology Farm | Photo: Chubb Insurance

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