Getting paid to volunteer – the newest workplace perk

The modern workplace is in the midst of an overhaul. As the baby boomer generation continues to be pressed into the stages of retirement, there is a new generation of workers that bring a unique perspective to the current workplace. According to MarketWatch, millennials made up over one third (35 percent) of the US workforce in 2017. That number has continued to grow, and now includes a growing number of Gen Z employees as well.

As millennials and their younger Gen Z counterparts continue to enter the global workforce, they bring with them certain expectations about the environments and benefits offered by their employers. Along with free snacks and the option to work remotely, this new wave of employees also expects their respective companies to maintain a certain level of social involvement.

According to a 2017 study by Glassdoor, 75 percent of millennials expect their employer to offer assistance to their communities either through giving or volunteering. This expectation often takes the form of programs such as volunteer time off (VTO), in addition to traditional paid time off, as part of their benefits package. These programs typically consist of between 8 and 20 hours per year that employees can use to volunteer, either through corporate volunteer events or with organizations of their choice, without losing pay.

In a separate study, United Way NCA conducted a study on VTO programs across the United States. VTO has been growing in popularity as companies respond to the on-going battle to attract and retain top talent in the modern workplace. As these programs continue to grow in scale and adoption, this study considers the potential impact they could have on their local communities as they scale.

By looking at 49 of the countries “best companies to work for” and their current VTO policies, they identified the areas of the country where VTO is currently most prevalent. Currently, the hotbeds for these programs are New York City and Silicon Valley, due to their being the locations of choice for some of the most millennial-friendly workplaces in the world. Additionally, St. Louis and San Antonio are home to multiple companies that currently offer their employees time off to volunteer in their local communities.

On a broader scale, by looking at the largest companies represented in each state, they projected the potential impact these volunteer hours could have. If each state’s largest company were to offer each employee just one day (8 hours) to volunteer each year, that alone would account for over 75 million hours (over 9 million workdays) of volunteer work. The largest beneficiaries of these volunteer hours would be Arkansas, New Jersey, Washington, and Ohio, coming in at over 4 million volunteer hours each.

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