Nearly two-thirds (60 per cent) of Canadians would volunteer more if it their employer organized it, according to a new study by Volunteer Canada.

The study also found 68 per cent of respondents would choose a job with a company that has a strong volunteering culture over one that doesn’t.

“Human resources professionals agree that successful recruitment and retention requires a ‘whole person’ approach that supports not only the employee’s work but their passions, values and family life,” said Elizabeth Dove, director of corporate citizenship at Volunteer Canada, in a news release.

Read: Canada 150: How can employers tie workplace volunteer programs to the big event?

“Employer-supported volunteering must transcend traditional concepts of volunteerism and encourage the employee’s sense of individual social responsibility by supporting them to choose from a wider array of cause and participation opportunities than ever before. This could include the company giving time off to support an elderly neighbour or a manager commending an employee for organizing an event in their neighbourhood.”

To help encourage action on the issue, Volunteer Canada created its Corporate Council on Volunteering that includes employers such as Accenture, Cenovus Energy Inc. and Investors Group Inc.

Accenture uses its volunteering and giving platform, myGivingCanada, to offer employees choice around volunteer projects, according to Deborah Swartz, the organization’s corporate citizenship lead for Canada. She notes employees can set up volunteer events through the platform, and encourage their colleagues, clients and networks to join them.

“Last year our participation in myGivingCanada tripled over the year before,” says Swartz. “In the first six months of this fiscal year, our people supported almost 500 charities in Canada.”

Read: Cisco workers get five days to give back under formalized volunteer policy

Calgary-based Cenovus has offered a number of volunteering programs to employees since 2010, says Megan Marshall, the organization’s senior community programs advisor. “We saw volunteering as a key part of our community affairs strategy because it allowed us to engage our staff and contributed to making Cenovus a great place to work.”

One of its volunteer efforts is a leadership development program that links vulnerable young people in the community with volunteer coaches from Cenovus. “The goal of the program is to help youth identify their strengths and potential,” says Marshall, noting other recent examples include facilitating a free breakfast during Cenovus’ family day event at the Calgary Stampede, building homes for Habitat for Humanity and helping with a cooking class with Kids up Front.

Trevor Krahn, director of community investment at Investors Group, says employee volunteerism is helpful in attracting and retaining top talent. “We fully appreciate that employees entering the workforce today not only desire these opportunities; they expect them,” he noted in the news release.

“We also understand that the definition of volunteerism is evolving, and as such we have been evolving our programs in turn to recognize this shift.”

Read: Financial services employers most likely to support volunteerism: study

Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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