Large companies have a unique opportunity to meaningfully engage with their surrounding communities. They have significant footprints, both in terms of their physical presence and their economic impact, giving them the scale and resources to make a real difference in the lives of the people who live and work near them.
When a company engages with its community and commits to social responsibility, it can set in motion a ripple effect that extends beyond the immediate moment. It can help employees feel more engaged and motivated, and prouder to work for their company as it aligns their personal values with their work. It also helps create stronger social cohesion, leading to a more vibrant and engaged community.
Today, the private sector is realising that they have a responsibility to more than just their shareholders. They have a responsibility to the communities in which they operate, to their employees, and to society as a whole – not just because it is good for business, but also because it is the right thing to do. Through volunteering and community engagement, they can respond to the needs of their communities in ways that matter, and in ways that last.
Corporate volunteering positively impacts employee wellbeing
From an employee engagement perspective, corporate volunteering promotes a sense of belonging, as it connects individuals with their organisation’s values and mission. The experience of contributing to a cause greater than oneself creates a sense of attachment that translates into higher job satisfaction and commitment. In fact, studies prove that companies that prioritize community-building and meaning are more likely to win over younger demographics that want to connect through shared values and be part of the solution. And beyond the intrinsic rewards, employees acquire valuable soft skills, such as leadership, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. These skills are assets in their professional roles, as well as catalysts for personal growth and development.
For example, at Pfizer, we have the We Give Back program, which empowers our colleagues to actively participate in volunteer work in underserved communities. Ever since its launch in 2022, over 384 colleagues have executed over 55 projects across 10 countries addressing humanitarian, environmental, health and educational needs. This has been most rewarding not just to our communities but to colleagues. Through We Give Back, colleagues have dedicated time and resources to causes such as supporting orphanages, organizing blood donation drives, and participating in environmental conservation efforts, thus creating a lasting ripple effect in the lives of both our teams and the communities we serve.
Corporate volunteering is also key in building stronger teams within organisations and promoting employee well-being. CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) practices are increasingly being recognised as an effective tool to reduce the risk of employee burnout in healthcare sectors. Studies have shown that volunteering can lead to decreased stress levels, depression, anxiety and boost overall health and satisfaction with life. Likewise, it can also significantly promote peace and harmony in the impacted communities by improving social cohesion and showing that everyone is all driven by one mission.
Community engagement creates a genuine and contagious desire for positive change
From the perspective of community engagement, this small contribution becomes a force for positive change. The contributions of corporate volunteers significantly enhance the quality of life for community residents. The impact can go far and wide, spreading positivity and uplifting those in need.
The power of corporate volunteering is not limited to the immediate impact of individual actions. Instead, it can expand its reach beyond the initial activities. The enthusiasm and passion that are fostered in volunteer programs are brought back to the workplace – encouraging others to give back to their communities. And as employees become more engaged through corporate volunteering, they often become advocates for the causes they support. This advocacy extends to their personal networks, amplifying the reach and impact of the charitable organisations they work with.
It is valuable for leaders to embrace corporate volunteering with enthusiasm. Companies can use their resources and influence to generate meaningful impact by attentively considering and responding to the needs of their stakeholders, including the surrounding communities. Leaders can build a culture of giving back and leading by example. Employees can take the initiative to inspire their colleagues, collectively contributing to a holistic positive change. Recognising our role in society beyond business is a shared responsibility, and together, we can actively contribute to creating a better and more equitable future.