Employer-Supported Volunteerism in Rural Worksites

Faryle Nothwehr, Diane Rohlman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Employer-supported volunteerism has the potential to benefit employees and ultimately have a positive business impact. Volunteerism has been linked to improved quality of life, reduced morbidity, and higher self-rated health. This study was designed to understand what small, rural worksites are doing with regard to volunteerism, and what their barriers are to such activities. An online survey was distributed to worksites using the social network of a Resource, Conservation, and Development Council, a rural nonprofit entity. Analyses included descriptive statistics, and for qualitative data, review and summary of common themes. Thirty-eight worksites responded, representing a wide range of worksite types. Volunteer activities requiring less time and resources to organize were more commonly employed versus group-based activities. Identified barriers included time, costs, small staffing numbers, perceived employee lack of interest, worksite policies, distance to volunteer sites, language barriers, and lack of awareness of opportunities. Despite a variety of challenges, some forms of employer-supported volunteerism seem feasible even in very small rural worksites. Worksite type, culture, and leadership are likely to be determinants of the extent and nature of employer-supported volunteerism. Strategies to encourage greater volunteerism need to be tailored to the interests and resources of each site. Occupational health nurses should consider incorporating some form of employee volunteerism activities within their health promotion programming, as it is consistent with an overall strategy of enhancing employee well-being. This could lead to positive business impacts such as increased employee engagement, improved recruitment and retention, and improved productivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-519
Number of pages8
JournalWorkplace Health and Safety
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • disease prevention
  • health promotion
  • mental health
  • occupational health and safety programs
  • organizational culture/climate
  • program planning and evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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