Over the past decade, IT has made its way out of the basement and onto the main floor, complete with bright windows, tinted to not reflect on our computer screens. Those who work in web development are no longer the creepy, socially awkward men and women they were once assumed to be. They are the heroes of the internet, creating games, apps, websites, and everything else needed to keep the digital world rolling.
Therein lies a major problem though. The digital world, however important and popular it has become, is still digital. The argument between digital experience and “real life” experience is an ongoing debate, however, one thing that is obvious is that those who work in web development are getting an extra large does of filtered experience. They build messaging platforms and shopping applications. They communicate with their clients (and co-workers) via email and video conferencing. They are basically spending 40 hours a week in a digital world, which is why it is especially important for tech companies to promote outside volunteering for their employees.
The Benefits of Volunteering
The many benefits to volunteering include reducing an individual’s stress levels, increasing community engagement, developing new skills, a feeling of positive empowerment, and meeting new people. While all of these are great for the individual, how do they translate to a better working environment?
- Lower Stress Levels. If your employees are happy and refreshed, then can more easily concentrate on the work in front of them. In other words, a few hours of volunteering every month can make your employees more efficient when they are at their desks.
- Community Engagement. When your employees feel like they are part of the community, they become more invested in making the community function efficiently. Giving your employees time to experience real life situations that can be helped by technology may inspire them to have a renewed vision for their work in the office.
- Developing New Skills. At first, it may be difficult to see how swinging a hammer on a habitat for humanity house translates to a usable tech skill. However, your employees will be developing their communication, leadership, and project assessment skills. Basically, consider volunteering another form of corporate team building.
- Personal Empowerment. As an individual grows in their volunteer work, taking on new tasks and getting comfortable with new skills, they will also feel more empowered in the office, meaning they will gain the confidence to take on more complicated assignments and work with less supervision.
- Meeting New People. Meeting people in the community makes your company look good and expands your potential pool for hiring. Additionally, if your employees are volunteering at the same place, then they will build more intimate relationships that may help their workflow in the office.
What Kind of Volunteering to Support
Most tech companies are going to be most comfortable supporting tech programs, like children’s computer camps or women in STEM initiatives. While these are great initiatives to support, consider offering volunteer opportunities that have nothing to do with your work. Conservation projects, scouting and youth clubs, or community health projects are good options.
To get the full affect of volunteering, your employees should be in a new environment that challenges them and refreshes them socially and physically.
How to Get Your Employees Involved
Many employees will resist mandatory volunteering and so companies have come up with incentives that you can offer your employees to get them started. These include allowing a certain number of volunteer hours to be counted towards work hours and paying small bonuses for volunteer hours. However, the effectiveness of these programs can be questioned.
The best way to get your employees involved in volunteering is to build a culture of volunteering in your company from the beginning. That is why Paiyak Development started our hiring process this year looking for employees with a track record of volunteerism and a passion for programs outside of work.