The COVID-19 pandemic has generated enormous pressures and new needs in society. It has also created new demands on the programs of community organizations and businesses who are committed to social and environment impact, as well new complexities in their relationship with each other. July through September 2020, Volunteer Canada, in collaboration with Volunteer Ireland, undertook a study with 50 Canadian and Irish companies to create a snapshot of the effects of the pandemic on employee community engagement.

Employee community engagement is defined as company-supported activities undertaken by employees to make a positive impact on social or environmental issues.  Examples include volunteering, donating, learning activities, civic action, use of social media, responsible purchasing or waste disposal. At some companies, employee community engagement is part of a larger corporate community engagement (CCE) program which engages other company stakeholders, such as retirees, employee family members, vendors, suppliers, clients or customers.

Findings indicate that companies are looking for creative solutions to continue their employee community engagement activities as they provide benefits to employee well-being and society at large.  With a priority on the health and safety of employees, there is a high demand for virtual volunteering opportunities that, to date, cannot entirely be met by community organizations. There has also been increased emphasis on employee-led activities, yet some companies struggle to engage employees and others are having trouble getting a clear picture of how employees are giving back. Looking ahead, companies are planning to increase emphasis on skills-based volunteering and on opportunities for employees to learn about community issues and the non-profits addressing them as part of their CCE program offering.

Read the full report – The Effects of the Pandemic on Employee Community Engagement – and listen to the [email protected] webinar, where Elizabeth Dove of Volunteer Canada and Terri O’Brien of Volunteer Ireland will discuss the findings.