Employee volunteer programs can increase employee engagement and put your organization on the map as a business that cares. To celebrate National Volunteer Week 2018, we’re looking at what drives volunteers, and how you can develop a volunteerism program for your employees.

“Volunteering is fundamental to a healthy and democratic society in Canada.”

Encouraging your employees to get involved in the community through volunteerism is a great way to further your giving back aspirations. Research of employer-supported volunteering shows that these initiatives can positively impact several aspects of one’s life: your business itself, your staff, and your community. The employees who volunteer are some of the most engaged individuals in organizations, and gain benefits such as improved communication skills, lower staff turnover and decreased absenteeism. Below are some guidelines for designing your own employee volunteer program:

Understand Your Why. 

It’s important to determine how your business will provide employer-supported volunteering, and ensure that those goals align with your existing business plan and mission statement. When you start thinking about finding the right charity partner, you should also understand your goals for your volunteer program. Ask yourself, ” is this program a marketing initiative or a part of my employee retention strategy?”

Share Your Vision.

Let your employees (of all levels) know how significant volunteerism is to you and your company’s plans. If you’re new to the  volunteering sphere, fill in your employees of the new direction for your business. Make sure everyone understands why giving back – and the causes that you’re giving back to – is meaningful.

Setting Structure and Program Policies.

Every industry, sector and company will have their own policies that work well within the size of their company, geographical location(s), and employee roles. Because of this, there are multiple approaches for a successful employee supported volunteer program. What are the factors that play into your decision to develop a program? Keep in mind that your policies should feel encouraging and rewarding to employees. While tracking volunteer hours is important, don’t let this recording process hinder your employees’ enthusiasm towards volunteerism. 

Empower Your Employees.

It’s wonderful to organize volunteer outings for your employees, and encourage them to get involved with the organizations that you support. But when you let an employee choose his or her own charity or non-profit group – one that’s personally significant for them – you’re effectively celebrating your employee’s values and their individual commitment to the community. This circles back to employee appreciation, which manifests as a stronger work ethic and more company loyalty.

Decide Which Resources You Are Able to Support.

Some companies encourage their employees to spend time volunteering by allowing them the flexibility to alter their work schedules. If 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM is when their non-profit needs the most help, let them extend their lunch break, and simply work later into the evening, have them come in on the weekend. You may consider rewarding employees for their generous work by giving them paid time off for each hour that they volunteer. Your company policy may also include paid staff time for a certain number of pro bono hours (of accounting, legal help, marketing, etc) throughout the month. This allows employees to lend their professional skills and expertise to a non-profit. Think of this as time spent for professional development. Many volunteer experiences are opportunities for employees to further develop their leadership skills.

Companies with engaged employees see 26% higher revenue per employee, 13% higher total returns to shareholders and a 50% higher market premium.

When you encourage and accommodate volunteerism in your workplace, you expand your business’ visibility in a way paid advertising never could. Loyal employees become inspired ambassadors for your company, spreading news of your generosity to future clients and workers. The organizations benefiting from your employees’ participation will also recognize and celebrate your dedication to bettering the community.

Whatever method you choose, it’s important to figure out your employee volunteer program before you initiate it, so that everyone understands what is expected of them, and what they can expect in return.

HeartPress PR can help you design an employer-supported volunteer plan that suits the needs of your company, your staff, and the organizations you’re setting out to help. Reach out to us for more information at 250-216-5480 or community@heartpress.ca.