(BPT) - Does your employer consider community service part of a job well done? If you're wondering whether you should take advantage of your employer's offer to pay you for volunteer time, keep in mind employee volunteerism benefits everyone involved - your company, the organization you'll help and you!
Approximately 21 percent of employers now give workers paid time off for volunteering, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Sponsoring volunteerism can help a company boost employee morale, enhance recruitment efforts and even improve the business' standing in the community. Volunteering can also benefit you emotionally and in your career.
For example, through the Investing in America's Health initiative, employees of Blue Cross Blue Shield's 36 community-based and locally operated companies (BCBS) volunteered nearly 400,000 hours and provided more than $10 million in donations in 2015. BCBS workers volunteered and provided financial support to programs and organizations involved in improving public health.
Workers involved in the BCBS initiative reported experiencing many of the benefits commonly associated with volunteerism, including:
* Emotional rewards - Multiple studies have shown that volunteering makes people feel more socially connected and emotionally fulfilled, and can reduce feelings of loneliness and depression.
* Enhanced camaraderie with co-workers - Employees who volunteer together consistently report feeling more connected to their co-workers and their communities. Volunteering together can be a fulfilling and effective team-building activity.
* Improving their community - Because employer-sponsored volunteer programs take place at a local level, when you participate you're directly improving your own community.
* Add depth to professional credentials - Current and future employers don't just want people with job skills, they want to know they're hiring compassionate, caring and well-rounded individuals. Participation in employee-sponsored volunteer programs enhances your overall appeal as a professional.
If you would like to become involved in volunteering through an employer-sponsored program, here are some ways to get started:
* Talk to your human resources department about your company's program to better understand how it works. For example, does the company have an established volunteer relationship with a charitable or community organization? Or will your employer support your volunteerism with any qualifying organization? Will you receive paid-time-off for volunteering, and if so, how many hours per month? Does your employer also offer cash donations or a donation matching program to support charitable contributions?
* If your employer has a policy that allows you to volunteer anywhere, identify the group you want to volunteer with. Be aware of any standards your employer may have established for qualifying organizations. Look for a volunteer opportunity that allows you to do something you're passionate about and that supports your local community.
* Gather information from the volunteer organization on what you need to do in order to take part as a volunteer. For example, will you need to participate in any specialized training? Will you need to agree to a background check if you'll be working with children?
If your employer doesn't yet have a program, take the initiative and suggest they start one. This can be as simple as identifying your worthy cause and asking your employer for support in volunteering.
To learn more about how BCBS companies are improving the health and wellness of members and their communities, view the report at www.bcbs.com.
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