As the world opens up again, many organizations -either through new hybrid models or time-honored office work- seek to bring back remote employees. On the other hand, employees working from home feel that they finally ‘own’ their time.
Working from home gave employees the freedom to work at their jobs and pursue meaningful interests. It created an ideal situation vis-a-vis engagement. Employees learned new skills, followed their hobbies, and gave back to the communities that supported them. These contributing factors have collectively raised the bar for employee engagement post-COVID-19.
The situation also begs the question, ‘is there a way to engage employees returning to office in a way that elicits a similarly positive emotional response’? And, can it give them the same sense of comfort and mental wellbeing that they felt while working from home?
Virtual volunteering could be the answer to both these questions.
It could allow organizations to step up employee engagement initiatives while showing employees that while it’s back to business as usual, it’s not just about business. There is a higher calling, a greater purpose, and it can co-exist with their careers.
Virtual Volunteering As A Means Of Employee Engagement
Virtual volunteering gained prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping people help those who needed it the most. It can become an effective tool for outreach, corporate-giving, and employee engagement in the post-COVID, hybrid-work world.
It can create more cohesive workplace bonds through the alignment of purpose. This synchronicity can improve the mental well-being of employees while also being a lot of fun.
The pandemic also sensitized many employees to the issues and inequities of the world at large. As a result, they seek jobs and careers that give back to the community in some form or the other. Virtual volunteering can attract this talent and become a differentiator for employee engagement.
The Salient Benefits of Virtual Volunteering
When employees return, after-office parties and team-building workshops will eventually resume. In addition, organizations also have a new tool in their playbook to boost morale and bolster confidence. Here’s how:
1. Virtual volunteering can bridge the communication gap between hybrid and remote employees
Connecting beyond the scope of regular work through virtual volunteering allows employees working from the office and those working remotely to connect in a refreshing, new manner. In addition, this fosters virtual and real-world camaraderie.
2. It gives employees a sense of pride
According to cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, the first sign of civilization is compassion. Being of service to people you’ve never met as a team creates a lot of positivity, motivation, and fun, especially if employees are returning to work after the fallout of COVID-19.
3. Virtual volunteering primes employees for productivity
Virtual volunteering can keep employees occupied and motivated as many industries return to normalcy. Another outcome is the scientifically documented positive feeling that arises from doing good, also known as the ‘Helper’s High.’
4. It adopts a flexible approach to volunteering
Virtual volunteering activities are diverse and time agnostic. This takes the pressure off employees, letting them volunteer around their schedule from the comfort of home or the office.
5. It is easy to implement
The time-intensive planning and logistics of physical volunteering, such as VTO, etc., do not apply to virtual volunteering. Instead, this makes virtual volunteering easier for organizations to schedule and implement.
How do CSR and HR professionals set up these activities on the cusp of having employees return to work?
An excellent place to start is finding causes that resonate with a particular organization. For example, specific causes like healthcare, education, employment, menstrual hygiene awareness, or gender and color equality fit can be taken up by organizations that are willing to invest in them.
There’s also fundraising for COVID care, creating cards for veterans to uplift their spirits during the holidays, recording messages of support for youth from the LGBTQ community, mentoring leaders of color to thrive in the field of social impact, and many more causes to support.
Corporates can even unite to help mitigate the effects of global crises, as we have witnessed firsthand with our virtual volunteering activities benefiting communities affected by the ongoing occupation of Ukraine.
What Will Teams Be Doing?
Virtual volunteering for teams with limited skill sets can involve more straightforward tasks like narrating audiobooks. Other activities can include mentoring or slightly more technical work for highly skilled teams. Some virtual volunteering activities can also resonate with individual passions or interests, such as poster making or illustration.
As far as time goes, virtual volunteering opportunities can be scheduled as short, time-friendly activities. However, there is always the possibility of committing to a long-term association.
Start small to gauge the response and run a short-term virtual volunteering project with a team of enthusiastic employees who believe in altruism.
Goodera is currently engaged with nonprofits in over 100 countries with a well-developed virtual volunteering platform and a motivated team to assist employees and organizations navigate virtual volunteering.
Go ahead, kickstart virtual volunteering and let those returning to the fold embark on a journey of goodness.