Promoting mental health through employee volunteer programs

Promoting mental health through employee volunteer programs

Volunteering with paid time off is one of the few benefits that many corporations now offer to their employees. Such programs not only create an impact on society but also help to improve the mental health of employees. Engaging employees regularly in exciting volunteering programs can help them escape the mundane and isolation and reduce stress and depression. Volunteering programs can be exciting and engaging and give employees a purpose to look forward to. This article will explore how to promote mental health through employee volunteer programs. 

Benefits of employee volunteer programs in improving mental health

Employee volunteer programs can help improve employee well-being in several ways. 

  • Volunteering helps take a break from regular work, which, in turn, helps reduce work-related stress. It lets one step away from work for some time to gain a fresh perspective.
  • Volunteering for a cause offers a sense of purpose. Knowing that your efforts are going to make a positive change in someone's life gives a sense of fulfillment. 
  • Volunteering also paves the opportunity to build a connection with the community. Such connections can help fight isolation and loneliness. 
  • Employees who regularly participate in employee volunteer programs report higher job satisfaction and feel more engaged at the workplace. 
  • Skill-based volunteering helps employees hone their skills and learn new things. The sense of achievement that comes with learning new things helps build confidence and boost morale. 

Promoting mental health through community engagement programs

There are various ways to build community engagement programs for your employees. But remember that it should be enjoyable, and employees must sign up at their own wish. Forcing it down on the employees is not advisable and won't help improve their mental health. 

Allow your employees to choose from programs that align with their interests. For example, if an employee likes to hike, cleaning the hiking trail can be a community program that's enjoyable for the employee. Similarly, if someone has an interest in cooking, they will be interested in running a food drive.

Community program ideas to consider:

  • Disaster relief support
  • Environment sustainability initiatives
  • Mentorship programs
  • Skill-based volunteering opportunities
  • Team-building volunteering events
  • Community service day
  • Virtual volunteering opportunities for remote employees

Inspiring examples of volunteering programs

Employee volunteer programs have become quite popular in recent times, and some organizations are doing it really well. If you're considering starting an effective employee volunteer program but unsure where to start, here are some inspiring examples for ideas:

IBM's Corporate Service Corps is a global pro bono consulting service program that leverages the talents of its employees to address key community issues. 

Intel's Intel Involve is another such program that encourages its employees to participate in community programs, including educational and environmental programs.

PwC runs Project Belize, where PwC employees work along with local organizations to address various socioeconomic issues in Belize. The program particularly looks for sustainable solutions.

Deloitte's Impact Day is a day meant to celebrate employee volunteerism. On this day, the Deloitte professionals participate in various community service projects. 

Best practices for a successful corporate social responsibility program

A volunteering program that is not aligned with the company's CSR goals or that employees are not excited about is likely to be a success. Here are some of the best practices followed by industry leaders to make CSR programs successful while improving the mental health of the employees.

It must be purpose-driven

Incorporate programs that are meaningful and solve a purpose. For example, you put two dollars in the donation jar and forget about it. Such programs are neither purpose-driven nor helpful to impact mental health. Letting employees take time off to spread literacy among underprivileged children is not only purpose-driven but will give a sense of joy and fulfillment to employees because they know their effort and time are literally helping someone. 

A balance between employees' interests and the organization's CSR goals

The most successful CSR programs are those that have a harmony between the interests of the employees and the organization's CSR goals. Letting the employees choose the programs they want to participate in not only offers satisfaction but also sees more participation from the employees. For example, if you notice a trend that employees are more keen on creating sustainable food sources for the homeless, and if one of your CSR goals is sustainability, then you may create opportunities for participating in food drives or offer resources for the employees to run such programs successfully.

Corporate volunteering for better mental health and productivity

By providing different volunteering opportunities, organizations can improve employee engagement, boost the team's morale, and let them serve the community meaningfully. However, like driving any business goals successfully, driving employee volunteer programs too needs thorough planning and careful consideration. To make a program successful, corporations should emphasize the interests of the company and its CSR goals and build the most meaningful volunteering programs.