Ask anyone who has spent a workday doing volunteer work for the community and you’re likely to get a positive answer.

 

 

“I’ve helped paint a school, tutor adult learners, and pack boxes of food for Thanksgiving,” said Ellen Virtullo, a 44-year-old graphic designer who has worked for various marketing agencies in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. “It’s always a great day. You do things that aren’t in your comfort zone, which is a great way to learn about new things; you get to know your co-workers better; and you do something good for people in your city,” she said.

 

 

So why don’t more employees participate in volunteer programs? Virtullo admitted she’s only been on those three excursions, and has probably opted out of at least 10 others. “It’s tough to step away from your job when you’re busy,” she said. “The volunteer things come and go. I don’t think people pay too much attention.”

 

 

An honest look

 

 

It’s that “attention” part that companies can easily address. By giving employees a say in their company’s volunteer efforts, employer’s help create a culture that values all employees. Paylocity’s Survey tool helps drive an open, honest dialogue across organizations by gathering feedback. Employers can easy create surveys where participants respond anonymously, and then responses are automatically summarized wither as a high-level overview, by question, or by respondent.

 

 

Other online tools can be used in other ways as well. By replacing—or enhancing—the traditional pat on the back and job-well-done certificate with real-time recognition, which can be viewable to all workers online, programs like Paylocity’s Peer Recognition tool helps employees recognize the achievements of their co-workers. Make no mistake, employees crave recognition. A recent Paylocity whitepaper entitled “The Value of Employee Engagement,” points to survey results from the U.S. Department of Labor that indicated “64 percent of all working Americans leave their job because they are not recognized.” It doesn’t have to be that way.

 

 

Solutions like Paylocity’s peer-to-peer social recognition tool allows employees to recognize the good work done by their peers—and a little recognition goes a long way. Employees recognized by their peers feel a greater desire to work hard, deliver better ideas, find new ways to improve their day-to-day performance, and help contribute more to the company’s bottom line, among others.

 

 

The big picture

 

 

Savvy HR managers know that peer-to-peer recognition also helps the company as a whole, as 36 percent of employees said that the ability to give and receive praise to others in a public forum helped boost intra-organization relationships.

 

 

Employers agreed that there’s value to organized events that help others outside the office, on both the giving and receiving end, so it’s important to recognize those who do the work. “Getting employees involved with company-wide philanthropy is a strategic, affordable, and health-enhancing way to boost employee morale, engagement, and retention,” wrote Alison Brehme, CEO of Virtual Corporate Wellness in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

 

 

‘A little shout-out’

 

 

Virtullo said she feels a little embarrassed admitting it but she thinks some recognition for her volunteer efforts would have gone a long way. “When we painted the school, which was actually a two-day job, we’d see each other at work the next couple of days and show each other the paint on our arms that we couldn’t scrub off and we’d high-five each other, but that was about it. It was like a little club,” she said. “My manager had no idea. It would have been great if she pulled up my name and saw ‘Ellen did a great job at Brennemann School.’ You know, a little shout-out. That would have been nice.”