September 19, 2018
by Sarbari Gupta, Ph.D.
Simply stated, doing good is the right thing to do. It is good for the people and communities being helped. It is good for the individuals who give of their time, and it is good for the companies who employ them.
Not too long ago, the legal profession alone seemed to understand the value of making pro bono work an essential component of its business model. Today, more and more companies are seeing the value of offering employees paid time off (PTO) to help worthy causes. Consider these statistics:
- In 2009, 15 percent of employers offered PTO for community service. By 2017, that percentage had grown to 22 percent.
- Among multi-billion-dollar global companies, this percentage was an amazing 61 percent in 2017, with an average employee participation rate of 31 percent.
Beyond societal need, there is a strong business case for adopting this policy. Companies experience tangible benefits from offering PTO for community service, especially among millennials. It enhances a firm’s ability to recruit the best talent and retain staff once employed. It helps increase staff cohesion and engagement, which translates to a happy and motivated workforce and may explain the rise in retention rates. Of course, a well-established civic connection demonstrates a firm’s commitment to social responsibility and advances a positive corporate reputation in the community where the company operates and the areas where employees volunteer.
Still not convinced? Here are some other thoughts executives contemplating a community service PTO policy might want to consider:
- Everyone wants to make a difference, but we all lead busy lives. By offering this benefit, employees have a new window of time to volunteer without affecting other commitments in their life.
- Without a PTO policy, staff who already volunteer to serve the community – and there are many – must do so on their own time and their own dime. Paid PTO demonstrates an appreciation of their altruistic tendencies and encourages others to do the same.
- While it’s easy to write a check or pull out a credit card, most of us would prefer to give in a more tangible way. It feels good to give of ourselves. There is nothing like experiencing the difference our actions have had in the faces of those helped.
- There is great need across all segments of our society and government simply cannot fulfill all of these needs. A PTO policy fills some of the gaps.
Our company, Electrosoft, instituted a Community Service PTO policy earlier this year and the results have been nothing short of remarkable. Staff have assisted mature workers in finding jobs, mentored young women on careers in STEM, cleared invasive forest plants to preserve our environment, built homes for the needy and worked at a center that sells donated home items to benefit Habitat for Humanity.
The potential for impact is great. I encourage other executives to follow suit.