April 21–27, 2013 is National Volunteer Week, an event created to promote involvement in the community and develop new avenues of civic responsibility. It also coincides with some wonderful spring weather, which fills us all with hope, excitement, and energy around getting involved with new activities. This is the perfect time to infuse your corporate volunteer program with new ideas and strengthen employee engagement.
In the second article of our three-part series on National Volunteer Week, we offer some tips to start increasing employee participation in your company’s volunteering initiatives.
Promote Company Events
Let’s be honest: Employees don’t always look forward to company events, whether it’s due to lack of interest, engagement, or morale. By tying a corporate event to a volunteer effort, you shift the focus toward a livelier, more fulfilling experience. Company volunteering events can provide valuable opportunities for team building and growing company pride. They also get senior managers and employees working side by side, setting an example for all. Giving back is contagious – after momentum picks up from few events, you may find yourself staging more company volunteer actives to meet employee demand.
Allow Employees to Volunteer on Their Own Time . . .
One way to promote a corporate volunteer program is by allowing employees to volunteer on their own time and still receive company recognition for the work they do within the community. Recognize your employees’ hard work on the company blog or website, your social media channels, or in the company newsletter. These can serve as inspiring stories that will lead to greater employee engagement in volunteer activities.
Tracking volunteer hours spent outside of the office also helps you develop a more complete picture of who your employees are as individuals. You may even discover hidden talents or exciting opportunities within their volunteer circles.
. . . Or on Company Time
Many companies have strengthened their corporate volunteer programs by allowing employees to use company time to engage in volunteer work. Consider allocating some additional paid time off each month for employees to get involved in the community. This is something we do here at Truist and it is a very popular benefit among our staff. When you allow your employees to use their time this way, you illustrate the value your company places on volunteer service. Additionally, employees may find they also gained something after donating their work time: fulfillment and an energized, positive attitude at the workplace, leading to higher productivity.
Match Charity Needs with Professional Development Goals
You can build a corporate volunteer program that meets employee needs at the executive level as well, sending a message of service throughout the company. Many companies encourage (or even require) senior managers and executives to actively participate in the community outside of the workplace. One way to help meet this goal is by matching executives looking for these opportunities with charities in need of board members. People with corporate management experience are in high demand by non-profits for helping them to run their operations more efficiently. This can create dynamic partnerships between your company and local charities as well as provide exciting professional development opportunities for managers and executives.
Recognize Employee Participation
Employee engagement in your corporate volunteer programs is certain to improve substantially when your company honors and recognizes the contributions employees make. Be sure to let others know what company volunteers are doing by highlighting their achievements on your blog, newsletter, or social media. By thanking employees for their participation, even with something as small as a personal phone call or thank you note, you’re recognizing that their time and effort is valued. When you commend employee efforts, they will appreciate this and likely volunteer again.