For employee volunteering to be most effective, we need to know more about what works, what doesn’t, and why.
The key to moving forward as a field and improving the practice and knowledge of employee volunteering is research. The bulk of current research on employee volunteering is limited to program outputs and comparative data sets. This type of research is helpful for benchmarking but is of little value when trying to understand how to design approaches to volunteering or giving in the workplace based on scientific evidence or other disciplines.
As noted in the article Employee Volunteering: A Review and Framework for Future Research, CSR managers and practitioners looking for better research are faced with a fragmented and multidisciplinary approach to the topic. Yet drawing on a variety of disciplines is necessary to better understand and leverage the untapped potential of employee volunteering as a practice.
RWI’s Research program aims to find the intersection between several disciplines:
This work moves the field of practice forward and unlocks greater value. The interdisciplinary research process allows for a conversation beyond a mere evaluation of ‘what we are seeing’ to explain ‘why we are seeing it’. Examples of the practical value generated through an improved and expanded connection between practice and research might include:
Scientific evidence - to explain observations of business benefits such as improved employee engagement, retention and productivity
Advanced program design - informed by research explaining how best to encourage people to adopt new behaviours such as volunteering
Lasting impact - through a better understanding of how groups of individuals transform systems resulting in long-term culture change
Volunteer experiences - designed to stimulate neuroplasticity creating changes in neural pathways and synapses