It’s a fresh new year in the world of corporate volunteerism. As we embark on 2022, there are a number of trends companies are building into their volunteer plans to maximize employee engagement, increase impact, and add a unique spin on traditional volunteer formats. These are our three predictions for 2022.
- A new edge on virtual for employee volunteerism – Zoom fatigue is real. Companies report an overwhelming trend of employees not signing up for traditional volunteering experiences or not showing up for events now that they’re virtual. Traditional, in-person volunteering includes events such as food banking, mentoring kids in schools, and home improvement projects, etc. This is driven by the repetitive nature of traditional volunteering experiences and “zoom fatigue” across employee groups. At the end of 2021, we’ve already seen companies flip this narrative by taking virtual experiences to the next level. We expect companies to continue experimenting with these strategies:
- An increased focus on empathy and storytelling – Volunteering creates empathy and understanding. It’s a way to actively connect with causes, communities, and social groups that employees may not be familiar with. Unfortunately, many companies are hyper-focused on the activity rather than empathy and storytelling. Both aspects of the event are important but the storytelling is critical to create empathy around the cause and to enable employees to understand why the work they’re doing is so important. “We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.” — Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human
- Engagement and simulation technology – We’re seeing exciting innovations in “immersive volunteering”. This volunteer experience relies on the storytelling and empathy aspects of the experience, to help volunteers “walk in their shoes”, of those they are impacting. This is inspiring, and enables employees to generate more long-term impact! An example of an immersive volunteer experience is Virtual COPE (Cost of Poverty Experience). Participants choose from one of fifty personas and are then faced with a variety of complex situations, challenged to make decisions about their finances, education, and other choices to simulate the challenges of breaking free from poverty. The experience is eye-opening and really enables the volunteer to generate a long-term impact. As companies continue adapting to the ever-increasing virtual world, new and innovative ways to volunteer will continue surfacing. WeHero employs these technologies in almost every volunteer experience we offer.
- Self-guided experiences – Employees increasingly are looking to volunteer on their own terms. If they aren’t showing up to your volunteer events, meet them where they are to increase the convenience. In an effort to support more nonprofits at scale, WeHero has invested in self-guided volunteer experiences. Volunteers log on to a “Masterclass-like” experience to learn about the cause, hear stories about the recipients, and then make an impact all from a location of their choosing. These experiences can be hands-on with the volunteer opportunity being shipped to offices/homes, or purely virtual.
- Large, in-person volunteer experiences – We are far from being back in the office. As offices continue to open up safely, many employees aren’t interested in returning to work in the office. Instead, employees prefer to come to the office for a brief period of time when there are critical meetings or an event they’re interested in attending. Because of this, small in-person volunteer events are still less common. However, large volunteer events during pre-existing meetings such as a company-wide sales kick-off, or an executive retreat are becoming more popular. When people get together, employees are interested in volunteering and leaving communities better than the way they found it. Covid-19 pending, expect this to be a large trend in 2022 as employees are continually eager to gather for events.
- The continued rise of skills-based employee volunteerism – As corporate volunteering continues to grow and gains popularity, the need for new volunteer experiences is only increasing. This has led to substantial growth in skills-based and pro-bono volunteering. In fact, 94% of millennial workers want to use their skills for social good (source: SHRM). Skills-based volunteerism also thrives in an increasingly virtual world and is one of the most effective forms of creating strong social impact. We predict this trend to continue.
The rate of change can be overwhelming but we’re excited to see the positive outcomes of companies of all sizes, across many industry sectors, trying to increase social impact. We’re excited to see how we all can continue to evolve and drive meaningful change for the world – for both nonprofit partners and employee volunteers.
WeHero designs and executes social impact programs through strategic partnerships, CSR & ESG program design and execution, and highly engaging volunteer experiences. Their team works day in and day out to develop new solutions to create better cultures, better brands, and a greater social return. Mission: empower 10 million organizations with the solutions to maximize their social impact.