Volunteerism in the Workplace

Working Canadians give companies mediocre marks for community service

Nearly eight in ten employed Canadians would participate in company community projects if their workplaces provided time off to volunteer.

Toronto, June 18, 2013 – Two thirds of working Canadians (67 per cent) believe their companies should be doing more to support communities, according to a new national survey commissioned by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada.

The study, conducted by Ipsos Reid, found that 43 per cent of employees rate their company as not being committed to community service. In addition, nearly eight in ten surveyed (87 per cent) agreed that business leaders should be more proactive in promoting civic engagement.

Among those polled, only 23 per cent had participated in a company-sponsored community event or project, yet 77 per cent said they would participate if their workplace provided time off to volunteer. Nearly eight in ten (77 per cent) also want their workplace to offer formal time-release programs and other incentives to volunteer.

“Working Canadians clearly want their employers to be civically engaged and help them give back to their communities,” says Bruce MacDonald, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. “This research strongly suggests that rates of employee volunteerism would spike sharply if many more companies offered incentives to volunteer. Imagine what could happen in communities across Canada if employee volunteerism were to surge. The societal value created would be enormous.”

Companies offering incentives to volunteer in the minority

  • 19 per cent of employees surveyed reported that their workplace allows time off to volunteer.
  • 12 per cent said their company offers “micro-volunteering”, a form of company-sponsored civic engagement giving employees time off to work on a community project as a team.
  • 20 per cent indicated that their company matches contributions of money or time made by employees.

A strong majority of working Canadians believe that companies benefit economically from robust civic engagement policies. Eighty-two per cent of those polled say companies that prioritize community involvement by employees gain from higher morale, greater productivity and deeper customer loyalty.

The vast majority (81 per cent) also think that offering time off to volunteer builds pride and makes it easier to attract and keep the best employees. Moreover, more than eight in ten working Canadians (85 per cent) believe that companies should encourage their employees to develop a healthy work-life balance through participation in company-organized volunteerism programs.

“Workplace incentives to volunteer are a powerful force for good,” says MacDonald. “If businesses were to broadly offer work-release opportunities to their employees, Big Brothers Big Sisters, which relies on volunteers, would be able to help hundreds of children and teenagers on waiting lists for a volunteer mentor. The service capabilities of all volunteer-based community organizations would be greatly enhanced.”