The Power of Small Acts of Service: Reimagining Company Volunteerism in 2021

In the wake of the 2020 COVID disruption, many company volunteer programs came to a screeching halt. As research continues to reinforce the bottom-line value of employee volunteerism, businesses are reimagining what’s possible and emphasizing small actions that roll up into wide-ranging positive impact.

Bottom-line benefits continue

A recent article by UGA Terry College of Business’ own Jessica Rodell Volunteer Programs That Employees Can Get Excited About reinforced key business value derived from company- coordinated volunteer programs such as:

  • boosting employee productivity,
  • increasing employee engagement, and
  • improving hiring and retention.

In addition, Rodell outlines research-based dos and don’ts to help executives frame up an effective program for their business with universal guidance on what to avoid like focusing too heavily on senior leaders’ pet programs.

Good news! The mere existence of employee volunteer opportunities reaps benefits.

There’s little risk to moving forward because regardless of the number of employees who participate, research says employee loyalty rises broadly when you simply offer and emphasize the opportunity to serve.

Instead of “if”, the question becomes: What’s realistic in 2021?

For many, the answer lies in elevating the small acts that add up to lots of goodness. Instead of historically large group volunteer days, encourage employees to help identify local needs and then provide the corporate structure to support and celebrate individual service. Showcase the employee who delivered meals to a colleague quarantining at home. Host a virtual 5k and celebrate with company-wide video shares and a small donation for the number of miles collectively contributed. Cox Enterprises exemplified the power of a single phone call when employees volunteered to be phone buddies placing a cheery call to homebound senior citizens.

Perhaps what you’ve always done isn’t possible but there are urgent needs and we’re willing to bet your employees have both the motivation and innovation to virtually meet them.

For inspiration, check out volunteer organizations like Hands On Atlanta for ideas. Or take a look at this Social Impact Guide created by Points of Light and AT&T to help reimagine your company’s approach.

There’s exponential goodness when small businesses serve together

For an example of the power of small businesses solving local needs together — take a look CreatureComforts GetComfortable campaign. Individual small businesses, their employees and customers, participate in whatever way fits and their united efforts reap significant benefits back to their local communities. GetComfortable offers immense promise as a model for how local businesses can stay engaged in 2021.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”― Margaret Mead

As you reimagine what’s possible for your business in 2021, don’t let limitations keep you from continuing to help your employees engage with community needs. Instead, celebrate small, incremental acts of kindness and you’ll find the outcome includes a more positive company culture as well as tangible needs met.