Multiple studies show that volunteering improves mental health, lowers your blood pressure, and increases happiness. That’s why so many companies provide corporate volunteer programs for their employees. They want their staff members to reap the mental, physical, and emotional benefits that come from helping others. In addition, a volunteer program provides much-needed assistance to a nonprofit in your local community, creating a win-win situation. To learn more about how to implement corporate volunteer opportunities at your company, take a look at some of these tips.
Creating a focus on volunteering is one of the best ways for your company to give back to the community. It can often be more cost effective than simply writing a check from your company to a charity, and it provides free labor to an organization that’s likely understaffed. There’s also a benefit to your company: Studies show that corporate volunteer programs enhance employee engagement and boost morale. There are a number of ways you can encourage employees to trade in their workspace for a school, animal shelter, or food pantry.
Provide paid time off for employees to volunteer
Nothing says your company cares like giving employees paid time off to volunteer. Many people would like to help a deserving community group but may not have time in their personal schedule to do it. With paid time off for volunteering, you’re making it easy for your staff to say yes to helping others.
Put nonprofit organizations in the spotlight
Use your company’s internal communication platform to showcase various nonprofit organizations. It makes sense to start with the ones that have a logical connection to your company. But don’t feel constrained to only spotlight these agencies.
Your communications team can write profiles of the nonprofits themselves, their leaders, or someone they’ve helped. They can also create punch lists of work that certain nonprofits need volunteers to do. These articles should include photographs if possible to add even more emotional appeal. The idea is to present your employees with community needs as a means of encouraging them to get involved.
Integrate volunteerism into your culture
At the start of each department meeting, you can have managers spend a few minutes talking about an immediate volunteer need at a local nonprofit or school. Or, they can ask an employee to share an experience they had recently while helping a community group. Place volunteer recruitment posters in the break room, on the doors of bathroom stalls, and in hallways. With enough exposure to corporate and individual volunteer opportunities, your employees will recognize that volunteerism is important to your company.
Let your employees share their input
After your employees begin using their paid leave to volunteer, they may have ideas to share. Provide them a means through an online portal or a dedicated email address to provide feedback on their experience. You may want to feature them in a meeting or an internal article for your company’s employee newsletter.
Don’t keep workplace roles when volunteering
If a group of employees volunteer together, don’t let managers run the show once they’re on-site at the nonprofit agency. Otherwise, the corporate volunteering experience will just feel like they’re still at work.
Empower a younger team member to take a leadership role during a volunteer shift. Not only will it boost that person’s confidence, but it may also teach them some practical leadership skills they’ll use when they’re back at work.
Create corporate volunteer opportunities for employees
Corporate volunteer programs require thoughtful planning and excellent execution. Not only do you want your employees to feel good about their work, but you also want the nonprofit agency to feel the partnership is worthwhile.
Establish a volunteer work day
A companywide volunteer day is a great opportunity to leverage your workforce to do good in the community. Identify a local nonprofit, school, or community agency that needs a lot of work. Partner with the group to determine how many employees you need to assign to various tasks. Then, set aside a day when all your employees can take part in corporate volunteering. Cleaning city parks is a great example of a one-day corporate volunteer activity.
If you don’t like the idea of having all your employees doing work for a single nonprofit, work through an umbrella organization that can connect you to many smaller groups that need help. If your community has a United Way agency or interfaith alliance, these are excellent groups that can help you divide up your staff among multiple sites. You may have 5 employees painting at a shelter for domestic violence victims, 10 staffers planting flowers at an elementary school, and 15 team members reading to kids at the Boys and Girls Club.
Focus on new skill development
Corporate volunteer programs can be great vehicles for providing skills training. Do you have employees who are aspiring writers? Let them spend a few hours helping a communications director at your community theater. Have a staffer who wants to learn more about event planning? Let him or her help a nonprofit set up for a big fundraiser. With little investment from the company, you can use corporate volunteer opportunities to give your workers some exciting career-related experiences.
Partner with a nonprofit agency
Some companies choose to partner with a single nonprofit agency and focus all their efforts on helping this one organization. With such a narrow focus, you can use your corporate volunteer program to make a big difference for one community group. In choosing an organization for this kind of partnership, look for a group that has an ongoing need for volunteer assistance such as a food bank, school, or public park system.
Provide maximum flexibility for employees to follow their passions
If you don’t want to partner with one agency, the alternative is letting employees use their paid leave to help an organization they love. You’re sure to have excellent engagement when employees have a say in where they spend their volunteer hours. While some may be passionate about community arts groups, others may want to spend time at the local Humane Society working with animals.
Monitor volunteerism and reward those who do it
Though employees won’t expect a reward for volunteering, it’s nice to monitor and reward your team members for their charitable work. Not only will those who volunteer feel appreciated, but a recognition program will encourage others to start volunteering. One idea is to make a donation in the name of the most active volunteer to a charity of his or her choice. Some companies go a step further by including charitable work on performance evaluations for some employees.
Businesses that make a difference by encouraging their employees to volunteer
Some companies have mastered the implementation of corporate volunteering. Consider how these companies improve their communities by encouraging their workers to get involved.
As a pharmaceutical company in Denmark, Novo Nordisk stands out for its commitment to providing corporate volunteer opportunities. Each year, Novo Nordisk gives its workers 10 days of paid leave for volunteering. In addition to the generous leave, the company often incorporates service projects into its off-site meetings. Since 2014, the staff at Novo Nordisk has had access to a dedicated portal where they can learn about places where they can volunteer.
Employees at cloud computing company Salesforce get seven days of paid volunteering time annually. For those workers who use all seven days, the company provides a $1,000 grant that the worker can give to a charity. Though the company doesn’t require staffers to volunteer at one particular agency, the company has cultivated enthusiasm and support for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s fundraiser walk. Inspiration to support this cause came from one of the company’s vice presidents and his battle with leukemia. The company has raised more than $1 million through its participation in the walk.
Medical technology company Stryker offers 40 hours of paid time for employees who want to volunteer with a charity. Over the years, Stryker has encouraged its employees to work with Operation Smile, an organization that does free surgical repairs of cleft lips and palates. Stryker even sent a team of employees to Bolivia to support Operation Smile, picking up the tab for the trip. During the excursion to Bolivia, Operation Smile completed 115 surgeries.
Whether your company wants to support an international charity or an organization in your community, corporate volunteer programs enable your business to give back. With the right strategy, your company can encourage employees to trade their work obligations for volunteering several times throughout the year.