Good Works in the Workplace: Volunteerism Boosts Morale and Teamwork

June 20, 2008
As businesses strive to be good corporate citizens, many also support their employees' charitable activities. By balancing the needs of the employer and employees, volunteer work can build teamwork and improve morale and job performance.

“Employees work as a team to get the job done and often that camaraderie extends beyond the office. They appreciate the opportunity to get involved with causes at a hands-on level,” says Lo Lyons, program sales manager with ExpressJet Airlines.

After she, her mother, and her aunt, were simultaneously diagnosed with breast cancer, Lyons sprang into action for the cause of early detection for all.

“This cause was close to me, and many of my closest friends are my co-workers,” said Lyons. “We formed a walking team and raised money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation's Race for the Cure. My company and my co-workers have been some of my greatest supporters.”

Employee morale at work also gets a boost from employee charitable efforts after hours.

“Today’s employees are concerned about whether the values of the company for which they work are compatible with their own personal viewpoints,” said business consultant Roger E. Herman.

Mark Silver, a retired Navy pilot and motorcycle enthusiast who flies for ExpressJet Airlines, joined the first annual Texas Honor Ride to raise money for wounded soldiers and their families. The group of motorcycle clubs rode across the state to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. With one email, Silver kick-started a movement that spread through the company.

“To be able to ride together, as a team, as co-workers, and to be able to give something back to those who gave us so much, truly made us proud of ExpressJet,” Silver said.

Lyons and Silver advise employees to be thoughtful and strategic when reaching out to recruit fellow employees for charitable causes. Lyons gives these tips:

  1. Before sending out correspondence, contact your company’s HR department for guidance or consent.
  2. Research and familiarize yourself with your cause and organization to make your appeal as universal as possible.
  3. Email is the best method to reach out to colleagues, but exercise caution not to bombard your co-workers.
  4. Refrain from language or references that are political or religious.
  5. Think of creative ways to get co-workers involved. Lyons bakes "Cupcakes for the Cure" to encourage early cancer detection.
  6. Offer alternatives for those who cannot participate in the event or donate funds. A colleague of Lyons' hosted a post-walk brunch and those who could not walk or donate financially came to the brunch to show their support.
About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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