If you knew there was a way to make your startup’s staff healthier, happier, more connected as a team and improve your community to boot, would you do it?
Of course you would. So why doesn’t everyone promote workplace volunteerism? Probably because they don’t like scheduling regular time out of the office when there is work to be done, or because this type of “goodwill gesture” often falls to the bottom of the to-do list, below more pressing business.
But entrepreneurs understand in a particular way that the beginning months and years of a startup – that time when the culture and core group of founding employees is being established – are critical to long term success. So volunteering as a team has many benefits to your startup that far outweigh the relatively little time spent planning and away from the office.
Team Building Towards a Common Goal
Life at a startup is exciting and new, but it also means there are not decades of workplace culture or longstanding employee relationships to draw on. Instead, you’ll have to build that culture and comradery, and volunteering as a group can turn you from a collection of individuals to a team.
Working towards a goal together, like building a Habitat for Humanity home or raising funds for a local park, will help build the team mentality and it will also help your staff with time management. That’s because even though everyone gets a 24 hour day, people who volunteer their time end up feeling like they have more of it.
Demographically, chances are your startup is staffed mostly by millennials. Retention of this large group of employees can hinge on workplace values and philanthropy. Why? According to surveys, a majority of millennials don’t want to punch time cards. Instead, they want to change and improve the world around them, and they want to do so in a collaborative work environment. In this regard, volunteerism could be a key retention tool.
Do Good and Promote Wellness
Beyond this feeling of connectedness that volunteering will provide to your team, it will also make them healthier and happier, which in turn will make them more productive. One study showed that those who volunteered had lower blood pressure readings than those who didn’t. Another showed those who volunteered lived longer than those who did not.
Additionally, we all know that feeling of joy on Christmas Day when we give our loved ones presents, and get to see their smiles as a result of our thoughtfulness. Or maybe you’ve heard people who volunteer say that they ended up receiving greater benefits than those they were serving. Doing good is obviously a benefit in and of itself, but also because of the joy, sense of accomplishment and perspective it will bring to your team.
How to Find the Right Volunteering Opportunity
To find the right volunteering opportunity for you team, look at the world around you. Is there an obvious need in your community, like a recently underfunded school that could use supplies? Look to your local faith-based community to learn about mission trips or on-the-ground services provided by missionaries across the globe.
Or survey your team for ideas. This is another way to obtain buy in and generate excitement, and you may learn important information about what is important to them. If a team member’s mom is suffering from breast cancer or if a child has benefit from equine therapy, those might be great ways to show support for team members while also volunteering for important causes.
The culture of a startup organization is important to its success. By team-based volunteering, you’ll lay a foundation of positivity, perspective and focus on others that will serve you and your team well both professionally and personally.