Unlock Your Company’s Potential with Employee Volunteer Programs

/ By Cowan Insurance Group

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be challenging. As technology advances, enabling non-stop connectivity, it's easy to see how some employees lose sight of the distinction between work and personal life, leading to burnout, reduced job satisfaction, and poor mental and physical health. Companies that prioritize their employees' well-being quickly realize that supporting work-life balance benefits the employees and the company itself.

The euphoria of volunteering

One approach to fostering work-life balance is offering employees volunteer opportunities as part of your wellness program. Volunteering can reduce stress, increase productivity, and improve mental and physical health. 94% of volunteers say that volunteering improves their mood, contributing to a "helper's high," similar to the feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and reduced anxiety experienced during or after any aerobic exercise, like running.1

Additional perks of offering volunteer opportunities include:

  • A boost in employee engagement. When an employer shares values and cares about others, it brings employees closer, strengthens commitment, and fosters fulfillment beyond their daily work. Volunteerism promotes team bonding and more profound connections among employees as they work together for a greater purpose.2
  • Attracting and retaining employees. Juggy Sihota, Chief Growth Officer at TELUS Health, says, "When an organization prioritizes giving back as a team, the impact goes beyond improving mental health. It also leads to a remarkable increase in loyalty, retention, and productivity.3" This is particularly crucial for younger employees, including millennials, who prioritize a company's charitable efforts and a healthy corporate culture alongside factors like flexibility and growth opportunities when deciding to join and stay with an organization.4
  • Enhancing employee skills through unique experiences. A wellness program that includes volunteerism enables employees to acquire skills and experiences beyond their regular job roles, fostering personal growth. It also allows employees to connect with community members, expanding their personal network.5

Let our team of expert consultants help you customize your group benefits program.

Fuel employee engagement through charitable efforts

To ensure your philanthropic efforts align with employee interests, start with an employee survey to learn what organizations they already donate their time and money to. After determining your employees' philanthropic priorities, find charitable organizations that align with your company's values. Implementing a social platform for employees to share their volunteer experiences builds engagement and showcases how employees live the company's values, which can enhance the company's reputation. Many organizations already have a certain amount of funds set aside yearly to donate to charities of choice. Consider broadening the program to include donation matching to charities employees choose to support.

Volunteering in action at Cowan

Established in 1995 in honour of our company's founder, Frank Cowan, The Cowan Foundation strives to make a positive difference in Canadians' lives through community support and strengthening. Sustained by the PHL Group of Companies' ongoing success, The Cowan Foundation exemplifies our long-standing commitment to community involvement, support, and caring about what our clients care about.

The spirit of giving back is a shared value among all employees in our organization. A great example is the Cowan Community Volunteer Program, which supplies donations to charities where our employees have volunteered for a specified number of hours each year. This program acknowledges our employees who volunteer to help their local communities, ensures that The Cowan Foundation supports the causes that matter most to our employees, highlights volunteering as an opportunity for personal development, and shows our employees and retirees that we care about what they care about. Since 2003, $648,000 has been donated to employee-directed charities through the Community Volunteer Program.

Our employees are also invited to participate in Cowan Foundation Community Action Days. The Cowan Foundation regularly organizes events, which are an excellent idea for those who don't know where to start or can't commit to volunteering long-term. The Cowan Foundation Community Action Day this past May was a huge success, with over 100 adults, children, and youth coming together to plant 320 trees at Onondaga Farms in Brant County. Volunteer efforts brought the community together and ensured the long-term environmental sustainability of the property. In September, employees, family, and friends refurbished wood duck nests, assembled turtle logs, and planted trees to help restore the wetland place at Brick Ponds Wetland in Woodstock.

If you're interested in learning more about incorporating volunteering into your employee wellness program, contact a Cowan consultant today.


  1. Kohll, A. (September 5, 2019). Why Volunteering Is Good For Your Employee Wellness Program. Retrieved from URL.
  2. Benefits Canada. (July 23, 2019). How to tie workplace philanthropy into employee engagement wellness. Retrieved from URL.
  3. Telus. (July 25, 2023). TELUS Mental Health Index reveals organizations offering volunteer time garner increased positive perception among employees. Retrieved from URL.
  4. Benefits Canada. (July 23, 2019). How to tie workplace philanthropy into employee engagement wellness. Retrieved from URL.
  5. Benefits Canada. (July 23, 2019). How to tie workplace philanthropy into employee engagement wellness. Retrieved from URL.

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