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How to Beat the Post-Holiday Slump: Keeping Employees Engaged and Productive in the New Year

By Silvia Chilel Martin | January 20, 2023

Post-holiday season fatigue. Short, dark winter days. Low energy and lack of motivation. Coming back to work after the holiday break is tough for us all.

But the sluggishness we associate with the first weeks of the new year can extend long into January and beyond if left unchecked. So what can managers do to jump-start their teams’ performance and keep employees sharp for months to come?

Keep reading to learn how skills-based volunteering can provide your employees with the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to do their best work – now and all year long.

Purpose at Work: Doing Well by Doing Good

Skills-based volunteering is a win-win-win for nonprofits, companies, and employees because of how it aligns social impact organizations’ capacity building needs, corporate social responsibility (CSR) priorities, and professionals’ deep-rooted but often overlooked drive for purpose.

By volunteering their expertise for a cause, employees get a powerful opportunity to do good at work, which creates a sense of fulfillment and increases motivation, engagement, and energy in their day-to-day work for days and even months after the service experience. 97% of a volunteer at a recent Skills-for Cities said that skilled-volunteering was a valuable professional development opportunity.

A Porter Novelli study found that working for a company with a strong purpose is more important to employees (88%) now than ever before with nearly 70% of employees saying they wouldn’t work for a company without a strong purpose. Skills-based volunteering can have a profound impact on nonprofit organizations, which benefit from not only meaningful, long-lasting enhancements to their operations, but also stronger corporate partnerships. In turn, corporate employees feel closer to these community partners and their missions, which endows them with a greater sense of purpose in their work and pride in their corporate employer.

Prioritizing Professional Development through Skills-Based Service

The most effective service opportunities are intentional about matching volunteers not just with causes that resonate with them, but also with nonprofits that are in need of those individuals’ specialized skills – the abilities they are uniquely positioned to bring to the table to make a difference for these organizations.

Skills-based volunteers understand they are so much more than an “extra pair of hands” for their nonprofit partners. They are making a difference because of their individual professional strengths, something that makes them feel seen and valued by their employers.

Furthermore, skills-based service is a great way for companies to help their talent fulfill new year’s resolutions related to professional development and career advancement – like earning a promotion or gaining the skills they need to transition to a different department – all while on the clock and at no personal cost to employees. Corporate skills-based volunteers can refresh and sharpen existing skills that may be underutilized in their daily work, develop new skills and systems fluencies, and gain exposure to new tools, strategies, and approaches.

Skills-based volunteering can even serve as a platform for targeted skill development depending on what technical or interpersonal skills managers want to prioritize. For instance, leadership development is a commonly sought-after area of improvement for employees and employers alike. This can be a nuanced and difficult-to-assess area for managers, but skills-based volunteering offers seamless, built-in opportunities for corporate volunteers to learn or practice core leadership skills like team management and client relations – at 95% the rate of traditional volunteer projects, according to True Impact. 90% of companies surveyed by Deloitte reported a significant and positive increase in overall leadership skills as a result of pro bono and skills-based volunteering programs (The Purpose Driven Professional, Deloitte).

The Business Case for Skills-Based Volunteering

The rewards of skills-based volunteering for corporate employees in turn benefit the companies they work for in the form of increased employee engagement, productivity, and even retention. Skills-based volunteering has been proven to mitigate turnover, a significant disruptor and expense for companies everywhere, particularly early in the year when professionals are putting in their resignations after the holidays and transitioning to new gigs. In fact, 90% of companies that work with Common Impact showed a drop in turnover after implementing a skills-based volunteer program (CI The Business Case for Skills-Based Volunteering).

In addition to the benefits of having actively engaged and focused workers, skills-based volunteering provides companies with a straightforward way to act on community engagement goals, especially cause-driven ones. For instance, companies can make good on their commitments to take action on climate change by forming skills-based volunteering partnerships with environmental and sustainability organizations, providing them with capacity-building support that increases efficiency and accelerates their cause work.

Companies can also bolster their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts by engaging with racial equity nonprofits, those that serve on historically marginalized or underserved groups, or whose leaders come from underrepresented backgrounds. Companies with proven equity expertise of their own can even work with nonprofits from any issue area on DEI-focused skills-based volunteering projects that help those organizations to define, enhance, or expand their DEI strategies, both within their organizations and in their communities.

Set Up Your Employees and Company for a Successful Year  

Skills-based volunteering is an excellent way to fight the early-year productivity slump thanks to its proven ability to increase engagement, boost morale, and provide career advancing professional development opportunities for employees of all levels and departments. Start or enhance your skills-based volunteering programming today with Common Impact. Learn about our strategic consulting and program management services, as well as tools & training to amplify your impact.