The holidays are typically that time of year associated with giving back, strengthening bonds and connecting with community in a meaningful way. So, why leave that sentiment at home? Bring it into the office! Integrating holiday celebrations and corporate social responsibility (CSR) could be the perfect solution to your organization's end-of-year festivities. Here's a closer look at how your HR department can create programs that help employees contribute and focus on your organization's CSR goals at the same time.

The Benefits of Holiday Volunteer Programs

According to Project ROI, a consulting firm, CSR programs reduce employee turnover by up to 50 percent while increasing productivity by up to 13 percent. Today's employees want their work to have impact. Deloitte reports that 73 percent of millennials around the world believe that business has a positive impact on society and desire a sense of purpose and meaning in their work life. Organizations with a reputation for caring about their workers, communities and the world at large have an edge in both recruiting and retaining top talent.

Using the holidays as a time for team volunteering could be a way to increase engagement without adding stress during a busy time of year. Your employees may find their budgets and schedules already stretched with personal obligations, so creating a volunteer option during work hours creates an opportunity for your team to make a difference — and spend time with their colleagues outside the office without asking them to take on more.

5 Ideas for Corporate Social Responsibility Programs

If you're interested in exploring holiday CSR events, consider these five options.

1. Team up!

Set aside time during the workday for individual teams — or the whole organization — to volunteer together. Soup kitchens and food pantries often need an army of volunteers to keep up with increased demand during the holidays. Consider wrapping presents, assembling holiday food baskets or putting together care packages for troops serving overseas. Connect with nonprofits in your community to identify organizations that need help and have experience utilizing large groups.

2. Give the gift of time

Many people are eager to celebrate the holidays but don't have the opportunity to do so. Whether their family and friends are far away or their circumstances keep them from participating, these populations need volunteers to spend time with them. Consider sponsoring a program where teams visit a nursing home, veterans' hospital or even a pet shelter, and give the gift of time and attention to individuals who need it most.

3. Host a specialized workshop or mentor circle

Does your organization have unique skills that would benefit the community? Consider hosting an event or class where you offer your services for free or at a significant discount. For example, an accounting firm might host a financial literacy workshop for small and midsize business owners. A marketing agency might offer mini-consultations or host a networking event for the local business community. Another option is to mentor students or people looking to change careers through one-on-one conversations with your team members.

4. Sponsor a giving drive

Sometimes it's not practical to dedicate a whole day to a volunteer project, but you can tap into your organization's team spirit and mobilize giving on a larger scale. Consider doubling your organization's match for contributions to charities during a set period. You could also run a toy drive or canned food drive, and create team-based competitions to see who can generate the most support.

5. Focus on an issue

What issues connect with your organization's larger corporate social responsibility initiatives? For example, a tech startup might have a mandate to help more women enter the field. Employees could volunteer by hosting a coding camp for girls from their local school system. The goal here is to choose a charity, issue or volunteer project that connects to the larger context of your industry — not what particularly what your organization does.

Help your team focus on giving this holiday season through volunteer initiatives and corporate social responsibility programs. Not only will individual participants get a personal sense of satisfaction, but you'll provide opportunities to build connections across the organization and within your community — all while spreading holiday cheer.

Tags: corporate social responsibility Employee Engagement