Paying it Forward: One Volunteer Act at a Time

The Impact of Volunteerism on Employee Engagement and Connections

By: Chris Piedmont

At Slide Nine, one of our core values is helping those who need it. In that spirit, we’re lucky to have a week of paid time off each year to volunteer for causes we’re passionate about. And, it’s that commitment to giving back to our communities that is just one example of how our team works to make the world a better place – for our clients, for our communities, and for each other.

This commitment to volunteerism has helped me reignite my passions, while also making connections that benefit me professionally and personally.

Recall back in 2012 when Michelle Obama gave her convention speech in that year’s election; she made a remark that has left a profound impact on me: 

“When you've worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of do not slam it shut behind reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.”

Her words perfectly capture what has been core to my own ethos of giving back: paying it forward and extending opportunity to others. For me, that has manifested by focusing my volunteer efforts around mentorship: in communication and for fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community. This year, I’ve used my volunteer time to serve as a media captain for NYC Pride | Heritage of Pride, the nation’s largest and first Pride organization. Additionally, I’ve volunteered to mentor budding communications professionals at my alma mater while serving on the College of Charleston’s Department of Communication National Advisory Council

This International Volunteer Day, we’re celebrating volunteerism and the benefits of empowering your team to give back. 

Increasing Employee Engagement 

As millennials and Gen Z continue to make up a larger portion of the workforce, they’re shifting attitudes at companies and organizations of all sizes. Recent data from Deloitte has found that these generations continue to place significant importance on maintaining work-life balance, allowing time to focus on hobbies and other passions, paired with an overall desire for positive change – with business leaders seen as a key audience (just after politicians and issues advocates) to propel societal change.

Enabling employees to volunteer for causes they’re passionate about – and not just those selected by the company – can help drive engagement and a sense of purpose. 

Unexpected Connections 

When we’re able to get out of our day-to-day work routine, we open up our brains to making new connections and learning new skills and ways of doing things. For example, this summer, I volunteered with NYC Pride, helping to coordinate the credentialing for the hundreds of reporters who attended the Pride March, Pride Island concert with headliner Christina Aguilera, and related events throughout the peak of Pride season. This enabled me to forge new reporter relationships – a benefit for our clients – while also trying new tactics to manage reporter engagement at one of the largest national events on a large scale. Letting your employees take time away to give back brings exposure to new ideas. 

Expanding Networks

There’s an adage that has proven to be accurate time and time again throughout my career that people want to work with people they like. I’d make one addition to that: people want to work with people they like and with whom they have a shared passion. By enabling employees to pursue their passions through volunteer work, they’ll expand their network, making connections with individuals who have a shared passion. 

Through my volunteer work with the College of Charleston, I’ve been able to meet and hear directly from budding professionals and other leaders in communication about what’s on their minds, what trends are on the horizon and maintain a steady pulse on potential talent. Others on our team have used their time to go as a group to volunteer for the local food bank, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio and other local organizations. 

Let your employees get out in the community to give back. The benefits speak for themselves.


Interested in learning how volunteerism and various other community involvement strategies can drive employee engagement? Contact us.