Best Practices for Developing an Employee Volunteer Program

Employee Volunteer ProgramIn the corporate quest to achieve the perfect level of employee recruitment, retention, and engagement, businesses are constantly in search of new ways to engage their workforce. A volunteer program has proven to be a creative way to branch off from traditional employee benefits. It serves as a perk for both the company and the employee, not to mention the people you’re volunteering to help. It’s about keeping employees happy, with the added advantage of working in an environment that fosters collaboration and giving back. Here are the things to consider when starting a new employee volunteer program (EVP) in your office.

Constraints

To get the ball rolling, identify what constraints you’ll be dealing with. Each company has different limitations, but you can still plan an effective EVP regardless.

  • What time works best for both the company and the employees- weekdays or weekends? Day or evening? Ideally, it’s preferable to offer volunteer opportunities during work hours, to show that it is a company supported program and to encourage employee participation. For many of us, finding the time is the biggest obstacle in volunteering. If a company allows employees to participate during work hours, it shows that the company cares both about giving back to the community and giving time back to their employees.
  • How many people can your company afford to send out at one time? For a smaller company, you may only be able to send smaller groups. This is not a disadvantage! Groups of 10 or less actually serve to keep it a more intimate experience. It allows employees to have more of an opportunity to share ideas. Everyone gets to interact together, people speak up more, and they find new ways to show off their leadership skills in a setting outside of the workplace.
  • Are there any liabilities? From the company’s perspective, you may be limited in the types of charity work you’re able to participate in. Try to find activities or programs that won’t cause any liability issues. Keeping employees safe is a primary concern!

Coordination

A strong employee volunteer program doesn’t just happen overnight. A lot of planning goes into it, so think about who in your office is ideal for taking on these responsibilities.

  • A successful volunteer program requires someone to take the initiative and the time to coordinate these events. It takes a dedicated person to research opportunities, organize volunteers, and be the contact person for the program. It helps if this person already has experience with volunteering or with event planning.
  • Designating a point person is great. If you can get others to help, that’s even better. In our office, the marketing department assists our EVP coordinator with the creation of flyers and posters for our volunteering events. They even designed a volunteer t-shirt for all FBS employees to wear while volunteering.

Participation

Once you’ve done the planning, you of course want the turnout. Take into account different ways to encourage employee participation.

  • What causes are your employees most interested in? It’s important for people to find a connection with the volunteer work they’re doing. That means finding the right people for the right program.
  • Provide a variety of volunteering options, so you can appeal to as many people as possible. For new programs, it’s good to offer different types of volunteer options with different levels of involvement and time commitment. If you’re concerned about participation for your first event, start out with something simple, like a food drive or a clothing drive, that doesn’t ask too much too soon.
  • Make sure your employees know about the charity, what they do, and how they help people, to get them more invested in the program. Be clear about the timing and the opportunities ahead of time. Constant communication is key! Create sign-up sheets, E-mail reminders, post flyers around the office—do whatever it takes to get your employees’ attention and pique their interest.

For obvious reasons, volunteering together as a company is a prime opportunity for team building. It’s a way to get outside of the office, interact with coworkers from different departments and really get to know one another in a non-work setting. Not only does it help employees feel good about themselves, it also alleviates stress and boosts team morale. Plus, it shows that your company cares about the community and cares about its employees. It’s a simple job perk that truly benefits everyone involved in the best way possible!