Employee Volunteer Programs should be a part of every small business and corporation. Volunteering allows employees to develop character traits, such as compassion, empathy and humility. Volunteering also helps employees have a more positive outlook toward themselves and their employer as well as a strengthened bond with their co-workers.
It can also help the companies improve their image in the communities where they reside and the increased employee engagement will help reduce employee turnover. In a 2015 report, about 62.6 million people volunteered through or for an organization at least once, but only 27.2 percent of those people were employed. With so many benefits more people in the workforce should be volunteering.
Here are some tips to get more employees involved in giving back to the community:
1. Get the Word Out
Just because your company has an employee volunteer program doesn’t mean your staff knows about it. Spread the word about the different opportunities your employees have to volunteer. You can advertise upcoming projects on bulletin boards or flyers passed around the office.
When you have employees spread out in many locations try sending emails or setting up a social media group. During meetings communicate with staff different opportunities available or show videos of past projects to get everyone excited. You can also pass around sign-up sheets or get employees to carpool to events together.
2. Provide Paid Time Off for Volunteering
Employees may want to volunteer, but may not have the money to take off work to help the community. You can include paid time off for volunteering – or the option to volunteer on company time – in the benefit package. This shows your staff that you care about them and the community.
According to CECP’s research, paid time-off for employee volunteering grew from 54 percent to 59 percent in the last two years. Giving employees the option to step away from work without missing out on pay is a great incentive to gain participation. It might even encourage them to participate in other volunteer events held by the company.
3. Hold Company-Wide Service Days
Company-wide service days are the most successful volunteer programs, because co-workers want to volunteer with each other and create bonds that they can’t get in a typical workplace environment. Employees are more willing to participate when the executives of the company also participate.
Companies with a day of service experienced increase participation numbers across the board, because it offers opportunities for staff to help with organizing tasks, leading teams and developing skills outside their usual role. These events also provide the ability to have the employee’s’ family join them and have fun. A family able to volunteer together will encourage them to volunteer more often.
4. Promote Skills-Based Work
Get to know your employees’ skills outside of the work environment. The more you know about your employees, the more you can target volunteer events to them based on what they are interested in and where they can help the most. The more prepared they are when they arrive, the better work they will do and the greater sense of accomplishment they will feel.
Skill-based volunteering not only increases interest and employee engagement, but it helps you maximize the impact of the program in the community. You can also create skills-based programs that play off the strengths of the workforce.
Companies are offering pro bono volunteer services to utilize the skills of their people for the greater good. For example, Microsoft created “Tech Talent for Good Program” which utilizes the expertise of employees to provide nonprofits around the world with much needed technical services. This approach is efficient and can help employees build on their strengths and be more passionate about their work.
There is no right way to engage employees in volunteer programs, but these tips can help improve employee participation which will impact your workforce. Volunteering will help employees feel more satisfied at work and less depressed in everyday life. Employee recruitment and retention will improve as staff becomes more engaged within the company. Volunteering helps companies build a positive rapport in the community which ultimately helps drive profits and ensures sustainability.
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