How to convince your employer that volunteering abroad can be beneficial to all?

Effective. This is a favourite word of many managers, who are looking for solutions that will bring them a better return on investment and improved results. And although this may be the holy grail of management, there is no universal formula that guarantees greater effectiveness. Part of the reason is that companies are made of employees, who have their individual sets of emotions and motivations, satisfactions as well as dissatisfactions. Those employees are people, and as humans we react to stress, often not being able to perform our best under circumstances that might seem difficult to us. Sometimes we struggle with various obstacles standing in the way of reaching our goals – including those coming from the inside. For years’ companies have been looking for ways to help solve their employee’s problems – including coaching, training or social benefits. Since recently, this list has been enriched by one more opportunity – and it’s called corporate volunteering programs.

 

Imagine being delegated to travel abroad within the scope of your duties at work. Wouldn’t that be perfect? But the best part is that companies too see the positive impact that volunteering abroad can have on their employees. For example – Sales Force has created an Employment Engagement Program, where employees can decide when, where and for what cause they volunteer. There is also Microsoft’s Skills4Africa initiative, enabling Microsoft employees to contribute their time to projects aiming at building a better future for Africa. We should also mention IBM’s Corporate Service Corps, within which program 500 IBMers per year are sent on Corporate Service Corps assignments. Last, but definitely not least – there is Pfizer’s Global Health Fellows Program that places Pfizer colleagues and teams in short term assignments with leading international development organizations. As we can read on their website “via the program, Pfizer has partnered with over 40 international development organizations”.

 

Maybe at this point you are thinking: “But these are corporations, not all companies have assets to practice such ventures!”. It is true, that in order to create such programs and sustain them – companies must have the necessary resources. But it is also true that there are solutions available for smaller companies to make it possible to partake in a volunteering abroad trip, like the Nepal trip organized by Travel With Mission last year. 

So, if you feel that this is a good idea, have a look at our list of 5 benefits, which may convince your boss to organize such a trip:

No. 1 LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

Through this new experience volunteers learn and develop valuable skills that will benefit their employer. Employees are put in various situations, where often they must make decisions and become responsible for projects. Some of them will be surprised to learn that – given the opportunity – they become leaders, multitaskers, masters of organisation, capable of building relationships – all very valuable assets to employers.


No. 2 EMPLOYER ENGAGEMENT

Many employees very much look forward to the opportunity of participating in a volunteering program within the scope of work. Once they see their employer is active in giving them this opportunity, they will happily give back in increased engagement in the company’s business and greater determination to achieve goals. Gratitude goes a long way.

No. 3 INTERNATIONAL MARKET DEVELOPMENT

Spending time in another country allows you to see it from a different perspective. It’s also a great opportunity to become inspired and open to new business possibilities which may turn into real projects for companies.

 

No. 4 TEAM BUILDING

If you send a whole department to work together in a volunteering program, they will be able to get to know each other better from new perspectives: they will travel together, work on new projects and in new roles, integrate during their stay, spend working time together as well as share their leisure moments. People will have many occasions to bond and learn more about each other in ways not possible at work.

No. 5 RECRUITING AND RETENTION

Many employees prefer to work for companies which apart from doing business also share values with their stakeholders, and participate in making communities better. Employers actively developing CSR programs are often perceived as attractive workplaces, and in times where millennials are becoming a dominant workforce, much more into “being” than “having”, and where we talk about companies having to attract young talents – this may be a factor that should not be underestimated. Research by Points of Light showed that 90 percent of its companies saw a drop in turnover after implementing skills-based volunteer programs – a very solid argument for any company, who knows the hassle of recruitment processes.

The path to being more effective can lead through many lands, also those connected to contributing to communities. Are you convinced that volunteering abroad could benefit your work, company, clients, and other stakeholders? If so, then perhaps the next step would be to talk with your manager and spread the idea. Who knows where that might lead you to..? :) Whatever your goals might be - good luck on making your dreams happen!