Millennials get a bad reputation for being lazy, not being able to hold down a job, let alone find one, and lollygagging in a dream world, not sure of where they’re going or how to get there. But let’s put this into perspective: millennials are more educated, qualified, and morally in tune than past generations. They aren’t accepting the old status quo of working 40 hours per week in a position that doesn’t align with their personal ambitions, all for a 401K and the almighty dollar. In fact, the priorities of the average millennial have shifted way beyond the self and are spilling over into international waters.
The expansion of technology, and increased use of social media has allowed millennials from all over the world to connect and take note of their own privileges, while realizing the inequality and unjust treatment of their international peers. They’re passionate about positive global change and are looking to partner with employers who not only share their beliefs, but act on them.
Companies like IBM, Microsoft, and Sales Force have all implemented company volunteer abroad programs, which allow employees to contribute their time to projects aimed at building a better future. These companies understand that allowing employees to become involved with international volunteer projects not only keep their employees happy and involved with global development, but contribute to their value as a human, and as an employee, creating a balanced and positive outcome for everyone involved.
Here are the top five ways that companies and employees benefit from an international volunteer program:
Recruitment & Retention
Understanding the needs of potential employees will allow companies more leverage in being able to recruit and retain top talent. Employee turnover can cost up to 150% of an employee’s salary when you consider recruitment efforts and training, so giving a little can benefit a company’s budget tremendously. One company reported a drop-in turnover from 22% to just 7% after implementing their company volunteer program.
Some employees are natural born leaders, but even those individuals could benefit from life skills that hone in on and develop their talents. Needless to say, an employee with leadership skills is an asset to any employer, which is why companies long ago began investing in leadership development training programs. Today, companies are looking to experiential opportunities that place employees in direct situations that force them to act and provide true growth opportunities.
According to a research study, adults typically retain only 10% of what they learned in a basic classroom training session, but that numbers drastically jumps to 66% when placed in a situation that involves hands on experience.
More than any other benefit, leadership development remains a consistent outcome when measuring advantages of a company’s international volunteer program.
Employee Performance & Engagement
Managers who’ve had employees involved in a company volunteer abroad program reported an increase in employee engagement and performance upon their return, with 100% of those managers saying they would permit other employees to take time off to do the same.
In addition, a study from George Washington University concluded that international company volunteer programs are a better investment than business school leadership programs, in terms of cost and diversity of learning.
Innovation & Expansion
Though harder to measure, one of the advantages stated for a company investing in an international volunteer program is innovation and expansion. Volunteering abroad allows employees the opportunity to get first hand insight on a different culture, its values, and demands. This customer insight can lead to new marketing strategies and product development, contributing to the expansion of business development.
Having firsthand experience automatically correlates with employee engagement, but when the experience leads to inspiration for new ideas, the leadership factor is triggered, and employees are excited about the opportunity to contribute positively to the company. None of this would be possible without the international experience provided by a company, while at the same time allowing the employee to get involved with a program dedicated to providing a positive global impact.
Every company has its own reasons for implementing company volunteer programs, but no matter what the goal, the outcome is always the same–happy, motivated, and skillful employees. Whether a realty company chooses to contribute to a construction project building homes in Guatemala, or a hospital sends its doctors and nurses to a medical volunteer program in Peru, employees take home valuable lessons in teamwork, cultural sensitivity, leadership, and a new perspective based on new experiences. In turn, companies are better able to retain top talent, and recruit and develop new talent to contribute to business development. It’s a win-win for both the companies, its employees, and the world at large.