Corporate volunteer programmes increase employees’ connection to the business

Metropolitan’s Lyn Muzondo believes that we need to feel connected in kindness.

Lyn Muzondo, human capital executive at Metropolitan, says that the pandemic has elevated the CHRO’s responsibility to ensure that they provide solutions and tools for people in organisations to enable and enhance wellbeing.

Lyn believes that CHROs are responsible for people solutions, “If we ever doubted the role of the CHRO in terms of driving the people agenda, which includes mental wellness, the pandemic catapulted us into that space. And undoubtedly, the focus has been to ensure the wellness of people in organisations.

Lyn highlights that if people are not well, it means that they cannot be productive. “So the pandemic has just enabled HR to come to the fore with solutions that enable organisations to take care of people’s wellness.”

Volunteerism, connection and kindness
Lyn says Momentum Corporate’s 2021 Insights report, which aimed to reveal the formula for business resilience and longevity, showed that 70 percent of the employees surveyed felt connected to their organisation based on the company’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and that 98 percent of those who felt this connection were also very clear on their company’s purpose

Lyn also mentions that the pandemic has wreaked havoc on people’s collective mental health.

Yet, even as we grapple to overcome the long-haul emotional side-effects of the pandemic, she says one thing appears to be clear: “The desire for connection and purpose, in both our professional as well as our personal lives, runs deep.”

She says that if organisations want employees to feel connected to their company’s purpose, where does volunteerism come into play? And furthermore, how does this benefit the individual from a psychological standpoint?

“I think volunteerism takes many different forms. And we’ve seen this in our organisation, from really just making sandwiches to feed people and to bigger projects that impact people’s education.”

She explains that she cannot begin to describe the impact of volunteering on mental health. “Clinical psychologists have already argued that mental illness forces people into the ‘I’ space. People look inwardly at what’s not working for them; what’s wrong with self and have negative self-thoughts about their lives.

Quoting clinical psychologist Joanna Kleovoulou she says, “Mental illnesses are about the ‘me’ rather than the ‘we’. The sufferer finds themself overwhelmed with negative thoughts about themselves and their lives. When you volunteer, you enter into a new realm of ‘we’.

Volunteering typically brings you into contact with those in need, which puts your own life into perspective, fostering both a sense of service and of community.”

Lyn shares that, according to Joanna, research shows that we are, in fact, neurologically hardwired to do good deeds, as these actions trigger the pleasure centres of the brain, spiking dopamine and serotonin.

“I believe that now, more than ever, we need to feel connected in kindness. Corporate volunteer programmes create an opportunity to increase employees’ connection to the business and to each other, while promoting their personal wellbeing. These programmes allow employees to feel that the work that they do doesn’t just contribute to company profit, but that it is making a difference.”

Lyn concludes that people want to work for companies that value them, but also that enable them to contribute to the things that they value. They expect their organisation to have a clear vision for creating societal value.