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Skills-Based Volunteering Improves Human-Centered Life Skills


For the first time in history, a workplace may have employees from five generations. While this diverse population can create challenges, I’m seeing many positive changes reflected as these younger workers are becoming dominant. Gen Z and millennials comprise nearly half (46%) of the full-time workforce in the U.S.

In an article published earlier this year, 4 Things Gen Z and Millennials Expect From Their Workplace, author Ed O’Boyle considered whether priorities had shifted for these younger workers since the pandemic began. The answer is a resounding no. Instead, they repeated that their preference in a job is to have an employer who cares about their well-being.

What does well-being mean to younger workers?

In an earlier article, Boost Your Employee Volunteer Engagement With Team-based Projects, I discussed Bea Boccalandro‘s 2020 book.

Look at the eight factors Bea identifies in her book as the drivers of job-purposing:

Work-related: integrates with the employee’s actual job.

Employee-crafted projects: incorporate the volunteer’s input.

Group-based volunteering: encourages and motivates more participation.

Impact-evident results: see things change because of our efforts.

Viscerally meaningful projects and results: touch us emotionally.

Evolving nature of work: allows us to create new experiences.

Introspective reflections: creates meaning by relating our experiences.

Tenderly led: leadership cares for the well-being of their employees.

These eight factors line up with what Gallup’s research refers to as well-being factors. These include balancing the needs of career, social, and community life, and physical and financial requirements.

One of our clients surveyed their employees regarding what they hoped to learn from providing their skills and best practices on a pro bono basis to the employer’s nonprofit partners. I was encouraged by their responses, which reflect a desire to not only improve concrete skills but increase connection and empathy.

Their answers reaffirmed how many of these traits can be gained during skills-based volunteering (SBV) projects.

Five of the sixteen statements particularly stood out to me:

1. Practice courageousness.

I think the work of Brené Brown has influenced many of us. In Dare to Lead, she describes the challenges for leadership today as Rumbling with Vulnerability, Living into our Values, Braving Trust, and Learning to Rise.

Stepping out of routine assignments and accepting the challenge of working with nonprofits is an opportunity to practice these values.

 “The willingness to show up changes us.  

It makes us a little braver each time.”

— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly.

2. Focus on communication and active listening.

Today’s employees want to improve their abilities to listen, express their thoughts, and understand others. Among today’s workers, 73% want to make a social impact through their work. Corporate-sponsored volunteer programs provide valuable opportunities for both service and connections.

Our clients tell us that the camaraderie and respect between employees and their nonprofit partners are palpable. These interactions, which explore a problem, find mutual and workable solutions, and visible results, can be life-changing for volunteers and organizations alike.

3. Customer-centric innovation.

People realize that improving this skill requires getting feedback from users in real-life situations. So, again, the pro bono experience provides first-hand learning opportunities.

As a skilled volunteer goes through discussion, iteration, and development, they gain valuable skills that will serve them well in every career.

4. Flex a growth mindset and increase cognitive agility.

Volunteer experiences provide employees the perfect chance to step out and expand their leadership capacity. In addition, Revere can easily match employees’ interests and expertise with partners’ needs to provide maximum growth opportunities.

5. Critical thinking skills.

The world needs people who can logically connect ideas, scrutinize and evaluate arguments, find inconsistencies and errors in their work and the work of others. A critical thinker not only accumulates knowledge but has the skill to use it effectively.

Today’s workplace rewards those who can solve complex problems and engage in reflection. Younger employees want to learn these skills.

Fifty Percent of Companies are Embracing SBV Programs

In-person opportunities are slowly coming back. For many months, these projects had all been virtual. Now we can implement some blended programs combining in-person and virtual within company guidelines to provide the experiences your employees request.

Today’s workforce wants to build skills in the traditional areas such as leadership development, team building, project management. However, they also recognize the need to develop their human-centered skills.

Let us show you how the Revere skills-based volunteering platform can help you meet the needs of your employees. Schedule a demo.