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How to Encourage Your Employees to Volunteer Their Time

Savvy companies encourage employees to volunteer their time. When tied to corporate social responsibility, a thoughtful employee volunteer program can improve a company’s reputation and boost workplace morale, all while benefiting communities at large.

But getting employees bought into corporate volunteerism can present unique challenges. While some members of the workforce face barriers that prevent them from volunteering, others simply don’t feel connected to the causes their companies are backing.


So, how do companies encourage their employees to volunteer their time?

In this article, we’ll explore how to get employees involved in your corporate volunteer program so you can create a fulfilling workplace that’s also a force for good.

Article Contents:


Why Your Company Needs a Corporate Volunteering Program

Why is volunteering important for employees?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly important to consumers and workers alike. Corporate volunteerism is one critical pillar of your CSR promise.

In fact, 71% of U.S. consumers want socially responsible companies, and today’s workforce expects the companies they work for to commit to good citizenship.

Workplace volunteerism aids in improving employee retention and performance. Volunteering is linked to better health while offering participants to hone skills like communication and collaboration for the workplace and beyond.

Simply put? Corporate volunteerism is good for business.

Finally (and most importantly), corporate volunteerism can positively impact communities when managed effectively.

How Do Companies Encourage Their Employees to Volunteer Their Time? 

Whether starting a corporate volunteer program afresh or simply looking to improve employee participation, you’ll need to formalize a strategy for engaging employee volunteers.

Create a Culture of Volunteerism

One of the best ways to encourage employees to volunteer their time is to create a climate of social responsibility within your company. This will likely require you to evaluate your current workplace culture with a critical eye.

To assess your workplace culture, consider these questions:

  • Are the company’s core competencies and mission tied to community initiatives?

  • Are employees aware of your corporate social responsibility program?

  • Are employees aware of your corporate volunteer program?

  • Is upper management invested in the volunteer program?

If your answer to any of these questions is “no,” you may want to implement strategies for fostering a culture of social responsibility.

Follow these strategies to promote a culture of volunteerism among employees:

Get Upper Management Involved

Signal to employees that your corporate volunteer program is about more than just optics. Have upper management, board members, and other leadership promote your program via email and other company-wide communication channels.

What’s more, upper management should lead by example by volunteering themselves.

... But Avoid Traditional Corporate Hierarchies

It can be tempting to manage a volunteer program like any corporate office. But corporate-sponsored volunteering is more inviting when employees have the chance to step out of traditional office roles. Make space for all employees, including your younger or less experienced coworkers, to take on leadership roles in your volunteer program.

Create Space for Like-Minded Employees

Create a sense of community for employees passionate about the same causes. Utilize your company’s social channels to unite volunteer interest groups. Then, designate program champions or ambassadors to help recruit others interested in these causes.

Partner with Volunteer Centers

Ensure your program is addressing real community needs by partnering with local volunteer centers.

Volunteer centers connect volunteers to smaller community-based organizations, making these resource centers valuable hubs for local volunteerism. By working with these centers, your employees can access a wealth of exciting opportunities while you ensure your program has a positive impact.

Prioritize Community Goals

The most successful programs prioritize community goals over the interests of upper management.

In fact, a majority of employees who choose not to participate are discouraged by opportunities that only reflect the interests or values of the management. Engaged employees want to volunteer for causes that reflect their values and make a real difference in the community.

Increase employee engagement by working with your community partners to develop a program that serves the community in a genuine and mutually beneficial way.

Reduce Barriers

If you want to encourage employees to volunteer their time, you’ll need to make it easy. Reduce barriers to volunteering by adopting these strategies:

Give Volunteer Paid Time Off

Dedicated paid volunteer time off during work hours is extremely effective in mobilizing your workplace. Management should encourage employees to use this time, so employees feel comfortable doing so.

You may also decide to dedicate certain times of year to community-based employee volunteerism. A volunteer month or specific service days during work hours will allow you to scale your efforts and promote participation more broadly.

Provide Flexibility

If you want to appeal to more employees, you’ll need to give them options. There are many ways you can offer flexible volunteering options:

  • Offer variety. Let participants choose from opportunities that appeal to different interests, abilities, and availability.
  • Consider families. Engage busy parents by offering weekend opportunities appropriate for children and teens.  
  • Explore microvolunteering. Some of your volunteers may not be able to commit to an entire day of volunteering. Microvolunteering is a great way to encourage those who want to test the waters before committing to regular volunteer opportunities.
  • Go virtual. Virtual volunteering is an excellent option for remote employees who still want to engage in company-wide initiatives.

Employ User-Friendly Technology

Make it easy to find and sign-up for volunteer opportunities by employing smart volunteer management technology. Volunteer management software, like Get Connected, not only improves the employees’ experience, it also automates many of the behind-the-scenes management processes.

A robust corporate volunteer management tool allows organizations in your community to post opportunities through one streamlined platform while matching employees with activities they’ll love, simplifying communications, and tracking and reporting on your program impact.  

Gather Employee Input

Employees are more likely to buy into your program when they feel emotionally invested. Survey employees to identify the causes they’re passionate about. Ask where they are already volunteering and consider taking cues from employees already engaged in community issues. You can also create focus groups and invite employees to share their ideas for shaping the direction of your program.

Leverage Employee Skills and Expertise

Volunteering is a terrific way to nurture employees’ skills and personal development. Tap into their unique expertise by identifying opportunities for pro bono service with the help of your community partners. You may even consider implementing mentorship and coaching initiatives that benefit individuals entering the workforce. Volunteers will be more engaged when they know they’re making a real difference.

Offer Incentives

In addition to volunteer paid time off, consider other ways for incentivizing workplace volunteerism:

Dollars for Doers

Matching programs like Dollars for Doers reward volunteers’ time with company-sponsored monetary gifts toward a designated organization. Volunteer matching is an effective tactic for boosting the immediate impact of volunteers’ efforts.  

Organize Healthy Competition

Bolster your program by inviting a bit of fun competition. Create team challenges and track each team’s volunteer hours. Reward the team that logs the most hours over a given period of time.

Host an invite-a-friend day and incentivize word-of-mouth referrals. Then, reward the volunteers who helped recruit the most referrals.

Bonus: Volunteering together provides ample opportunities for team building and socialization, qualities that draw people to volunteerism.

Give Away Swag

Your volunteers aren’t in it for the stuff. However, exclusive swag—like custom t-shirts—is a great way to commemorate a volunteer event while fostering a sense of community. Plus, branded merchandise also serves as advertising for the nonprofit organizations you support!

Set Employee Volunteerism Goals and Track Impact

Give your employee volunteers direction and purpose by tying volunteerism to professional development and personal goals.

Set Goals

Many companies harness goal setting to evaluate and encourage employee growth. Why not approach corporate volunteerism similarly?

Set collective goals, like quarterly impact targets. Then, invite employees to set their own goals. What do they hope to get from the program professionally and personally? How does your company plan to help employees meet these goals? Check-in with your employee volunteers throughout the year to get a sense of their progress.

Track Impact

Employees and stakeholders want to know that their volunteer work is impactful. Track their hard work by collecting data on employee volunteer hours and participation. Communicate and report on volunteer program impact each quarter to acknowledge employee’s contributions and maintain motivation.

Tracking and reporting employee volunteer data can become challenging and time-consuming without the right tools in place. Fortunately, Get Connected volunteer management software offers a dedicated solution for corporate volunteer programs to streamline the entire volunteer lifecycle.

Celebrate Success

Showing volunteer appreciation and recognizing your employees’ efforts goes a long way toward supporting a culture of service where volunteers regularly enjoy taking part. Take time to celebrate your employee volunteers and thank them for their commitment to your company’s corporate social responsibility.

Need inspiration? Check out these examples of companies that encourage employees to volunteer.

Additional Resources

Corporate Volunteerism: The Key to Increasing Your Company's Impact

20 Unique Corporate Volunteer Program Examples

Word-of-Mouth Recruitment: How to Leverage Volunteers to Promote Your Program

The Rise of Microvolunteerism: What it Means for Your Volunteer Program

How to Streamline Your Volunteer Registration Process with Smart Technology

 

 

Author: Addison Waters