National Volunteer Week, established in 1974 by Points of Light, runs from April 15-21 this year. The week aims to thank and recognize volunteer efforts by individuals and groups around the world. In celebration of the week, we’re making a case for why construction companies should introduce volunteer opportunities to employees, with retention and the bottom line in mind.

Millennial Mindset

Many Millennials were coming of age when the U.S. economy was at a low. Their parents were getting laid off, older siblings were graduating with no job prospects and construction projects around their communities were left abandoned. Today, 30 percent of Millennials state “meaningful work,” not the size of their paycheck, as the single most important aspect in employment.

Construction companies are once again facing uncertainty in the form of workforce shortages. An AGC of America study shows that 82 percent of construction firms believe it will be difficult to recruit and hire qualified workers in 2018. It is also estimated by Forbes that in 2025, Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce. By adding meaning to Millennial employees’ lives through philanthropic partnerships and volunteer opportunities at work, construction companies can better recruit and retain the newest wave of workers for years to come.


Social Justice Warriors

Social media and social justice go hand in hand. According to a recent Millennial Impact Report, of the 30 million Millennials working, 84 percent made at least one charitable donation last year — thanks, in large part, to social media. We all remember the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which was liked and shared by over 28 million Facebook users. Individuals and corporations alike participated and donated, ultimately raising over $100 million for ALS. More recently, Facebook launched its Charitable Giving tool, allowing individuals to easily donate to philanthropic efforts.

Companies hoping to recruit and retain Millennials through charitable giving should look to social media and follow suit. Keep it simple by partnering with organizations whose values align with company values and make it easy for employees to participate. Habitat for Humanity boasts corporate partnership opportunities and building events that would greatly benefit from the talents of a construction crew. Many companies also opt into automatic donations that are deducted from each paycheck. Whatever charitable activities are chosen, encourage social media sharing to boost recruitment efforts and engage employees.

[It should be noted that some charitable organizations require background testing for all volunteers. BirdDogHR™ offers employee background screening that can cover a wide range of background check requirements.]

Give Back in Bad Weather

Not every day will be a busy one during the construction season. When bad weather hits an outdoor job site, many companies just send their crews home. Whether they realize it or not, this practice can pose a retention risk, which can cost companies anywhere from two to five times that employees’ annual salary. When employees are sent home, it’s often without pay, and some may spend their day off looking for more consistent work.

Instead of sending crews home, construction companies could use that time to keep employees engaged through community service. Even on rainy days, plenty of organizations, schools and religious groups need ongoing volunteer support. Websites like VolunteerMatch locate groups needing volunteers in specific communities and areas of interest. Support Our Troops is another option to investigate, as companies can keep care package supplies on hand so when weather delays do arise, the volunteer crew and supplies are ready to go.

Volunteering Pays Off

Workplace giving raises nearly $4 billion annually for charitable organizations, but charities aren’t the only groups who profit. According to Project ROI, a well-designed company volunteer program can increase employee engagement up to 7.5 percent, reduce turnover by 50 percent and increase revenue by as much as 20 percent. That’s because engaged employees are more invested and more productive. Employee turnover and subsequent recruiting is costly, so implementing a program from this perspective saves money on the front end and can bring a great return through engaged, productive employees.

Consider incorporating volunteer time off into your benefits package. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 21 percent of companies offer volunteer time off to their employees. Companies may want to consider this as an additional benefit to attract and retain Millennial workers at a time when good help is hard to find.

For more information on recruiting and retaining top talent in the 2018 construction season and beyond, request your Free HR Assessment today.