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Workplace Trends in Benefits: Giving Back

By March 29, 2019

Smart companies spend a good deal of time and thought on the benefits they provide their employees. And employees appreciate the effort. In fact, according to the most recent survey from the Society for Human Resource Management, 92% of employees consider benefits important to their job satisfaction. With low unemployment rates, companies struggle to find the right benefits to entice employees to come onboard and stay onboard.

At Salesforce, we incorporate giving back at all levels – community, family, and individual – to foster a healthy relationship with our employees. We found this effective, and we’re finding that many companies are seeing similar results. Here are some of the trends we’re seeing in how companies use philanthropy and volunteering programs to engage their employees, improve morale, and increase retention.

Give Back to Your Community

Like everyone, your employees are part of a wider community. And many employees want to give back to the places they live or the causes they believe in.

Studies show that employees want to volunteer in their communities and that they like when their companies help them do that. According to Deloitte’s Volunteerism Survey, workplaces with a culture of volunteerism find that volunteering boosts morale, improves team building, and increases the value of a company’s brand. According to 2018 study by Povaddo, of employees who feel their company encourages them to support causes they care about, 74% are more likely to recommend their company as a place to work, 71% are more likely to stay longer, and 61% are more likely to increase their overall engagement at work, provided their CEO makes a real effort to address an important societal issue.

Ready to do well by doing good? Here are three programs that companies are using today to give back to their communities:

  • Provide paid time off for volunteering. Some companies provide a few days of paid volunteer time a year. We typically see a range of two to seven days (or 16 to 56 hours) of paid time off to volunteer with the nonprofit of their choice.
  • Organize group volunteer projects, both onsite and for employees working remotely. Group volunteer projects can be anything from corporate-sponsored 5K runs to a Dress for Success workshop at the office. These programs help strengthen the connection between employees and their community and give them a sense of pride about where they work.
  • Matching employee donations to the charities of their choice. When a company matches its employees’ donations, employees feel connected to the company, as well as validated. Matching sends a message that the company cares about not just the causes its employees care about most, but the employees themselves.

Employees’ children participating in a company-based event. Photo courtesy of Saradha Rajagopalan.

Give Back to Your Family

Employees may have a family of their own or have plans for one. Here’s how companies can remind employees that they understand what we’re all working so hard for:

  • Help pay adoption fees. Families are all built differently, so it’s important for companies to recognize this and help alleviate some of the costs of those who are growing their families through adoption.
  • Subsidizing fertility treatments. For those trying to conceive or planning to conceive later, fertility treatments are a boon. Companies are starting to subsidize costs for IVF treatments or freezing sperm and eggs to give employees that choice on how and when they want to have children.
  • Ensuring generous parental leave. No matter how your employees build their families, it is critical that they get that special time to bond with their babies. Companies should ensure a meaningful parental leave policy for both primary and secondary caregivers. Even though it’s not a federal mandate, many companies offer paid leave, and time off can range from a few weeks to six months.

Other programs help employees take care of the family they already have. After all, your family’s needs don’t stop once they’re born. Ways to help out employee families abound. Consider these options:

  • On-site childcare. It’s a meaningful benefit to provide childcare just a few steps away from where the parents are working.
  • Last-minute childcare at home. Companies partner with services to help take care of children during unplanned downtime, like illness or snow days so that employees can focus on getting their jobs done.
  • Coordinating care of aging parents. Families are more than just employees and their children. Employees have parents of their own. As many of today’s workers are part of the sandwich generation, help in easing that burden can be invaluable.

In today’s stressful environment, it’s good to know that your company is working to take care of its employees and their families. This isn’t just compassionate; it’s also good business. When you take care of your employees and enable them to give back to their families and community, you allow them to be the best versions of themselves in and out of work.

Employees participating in a running-based charity fundraiser

Give Back to Yourself: Health and Wellbeing

You can’t pour from an empty cup. Employees first and foremost have to take care of themselves. To make sure this happens, companies can help employees prioritize themselves. Programs to support that include policies for the following:

  • Wellbeing programs. Companies can do a lot more in supporting employee wellbeing. This can be any sort of education or engagement or even a subsidy to enable employees to eat better, exercise, meditate, or get better sleep. Here are some tips and tricks to bring this to your company
  • Healthcare coverage, including mental health. There’s a reason this is considered a standard benefit. And don’t shy away from tough topics like behavioral health, too.
  • Flexible working arrangements. While arrangements for working remotely can vary by business and team needs, it’s a good benefit to discuss. At the very least, make sure managers are empowered to have conversations about when employees should take a sick day or work from home.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in employee trends that strive to help employees give back on all levels. Here’s hoping you can find the programs that are right for you, so you can start or expand your circle of giving.

For more detailed research on the evolution of corporate social responsibility programs and how it impacts brand reputation, human resources, and employee engagement, read this report from Nucleus Research.


About the Author

Abby Hollingsworth

Abby Hollingsworth joined Salesforce in 2014 and is currently VP of Global Benefits with oversight of U.S. and global benefits. Prior to joining Salesforce, she managed HR operations and benefits at Advent Software, a financial services technology company. Abby Hollingsworth holds a B.S. in Business with a concentration in Human Resource Management from San Francisco State University.