Corporate volunteerism has become increasingly popular in recent years as more and more companies recognize its value. It has been well established that volunteer programs play an essential role in promoting employee well-being and contributing to the community.
When implemented correctly, they can promote better employee health, boost morale, and increase overall performance and productivity. If you don't have a corporate volunteer program or are unhappy with your current one, this post is for you.
We have compiled a step-by-step guide to help you develop a successful corporate volunteer program for your company.
What is a corporate volunteer program?
A corporate volunteer program is a workplace-based initiative that allows employees to engage in meaningful volunteer work in the community. 73% of employees wish their companies would put more effort into supporting social or environmental issues.
Companies can encourage their employees to volunteer by offering paid time off, which they utilize to engage in a charity nominated by the employer of one of their choice.
A good example of a successful volunteer program is PwC which gives employees a chance to volunteer in charity work for up to 15 hours per year. It has a charitable foundation, which aims to support the PwC people during unprecedented hardships and build more resilient communities.
Another is Frontiers, which provides employees with a platform to find volunteer opportunities and track their impact on the community.
How does volunteering affect the workplace?
The benefits of volunteering are unmatched. To begin with, it helps employees move out of their comfort zone and find a meaningful way to utilize their skills and expertise in charity.
Corporate volunteer programs allow employees to grow by providing learning opportunities they may not have found within the workplace. The skills they learn in their volunteering activities come become a benefit to the organization.
These programs also improve employee engagement and satisfaction. In the United States, an organization's reputation in the community is the second most important driver of employee engagement.
The more companies encourage employees to volunteer in charity, the more engaged they become at work. This leads to higher morale, employee satisfaction, and greater productivity. In fact, companies with high employee engagement have reported over a 19% increase in their annual operating income.
Steps to set up a corporate volunteer program
The following steps will help you to develop an effective and robust corporate volunteer program for your company.
Step 1: Assess
The first step involves reviewing the gaps and identifying the current needs in your community. You can brainstorm with your team on what programs, tasks, and projects need more attention (for example, hunger relief efforts or dealing with natural disasters). Furthermore, consider which needs align with your company values.
Once you have analyzed and identified these needs, review the skills, expertise, and time needed to attend to them. It is best to focus on one or two areas where you can efficiently funnel your volunteer resources.
Other factors you need to consider during your assessment are the name of the program and how much input the employees will have. Will the volunteering time be paid or unpaid?
A board of directors and employee representatives at all levels will help you make these decisions and help you develop activities that appeal to all staff.
Step 2: Set your goals
Launching a successful corporate volunteer program requires setting clear and measurable goals. Consider how the program's objectives will contribute to the success of your organization's strategy and identify metrics to turn these goals into quantifiable outcomes.
When setting goals, you must keep employee and time resources in mind. Some of the questions to ask yourself at this stage include:
Implementing a volunteer program is a journey. You can begin with specific programs and introduce more opportunities over time to maximize your impact on the community.
Step 3: Map your action plan
Once you have clear goals, the next step is setting up your action plan. This involves deciding how you will engage your employees in the program and how you will launch it.
Where possible, it is best to tie your CSR strategy with the purpose of your employee volunteer program. For instance, if your CSR strategy is linked to sustainable development goals, you can tie them to your program.
Here are some of the questions you need to ask yourself:
Step 4: Secure support for the senior executives
Your employee volunteer program cannot be successful without support from the senior executives/c-level, starting with the CEO.
They play a critical role in actively promoting the program to employees and supporting the recognition and reward of workplace-based volunteering.
It is also vital to engage managers in the initiative. When they buy into the program, they will be generous in giving time off to the employees in their departments.
Not just that, they act as role models and might also be willing to volunteer their skills and expertise in your preferred organization.
Step 5: Look for partnership opportunities
You can strengthen your employee volunteer program by partnering with other organizations. Partnerships bring together different skills, expertise, and resources that make it easier to achieve the goals of your program.
Many non-profit organizations and schools are always open to volunteering opportunities. You can get these partnerships in volunteer mobilization events such as National Volunteer Week and Make a Difference Day. If you run a business, you can team up with your suppliers and customers to make your program successful.
Step 6: Find a digital platform to use
Having an online platform where employees can access the program plans is vital. There are reliable platforms that bring together teams, make it easier to manage the program, and keep the members informed on what is happening in real time.
They allow employees to browse through the projects while helping you track your program's impact and share the results with the company.
Online platforms also improve employee engagement since they are aware of available volunteering options and participate where they are willing.
Step 7: Quantify the success of your program
Quantifying your program's success is key to knowing the impact of your volunteering efforts. You should have clear statistics on the number of volunteering employees, the number of organizations and individuals served, volunteer time, and the number of donations.
Another way to measure success is through feedback. You can get this by surveying the participants to find out their experience with the volunteering activities. This information will help you measure the success of your program.
Step 8: Recognize and reward volunteer participants
Although volunteering is an act of self-willingness that many do not expect rewards for, it is vital to recognize and appreciate the participants.
You can show your appreciation through certificates, gift cards, coupons, and plaques. These will keep them motivated and eager to participate more in volunteering activities.
It is also good to hold annual ceremonies to celebrate successful volunteer programs and recognize their efforts. This is an excellent opportunity to invite the media, generate public awareness for your brand and the volunteer programs, and enhance your employer branding.
Step 9: Make your programs' efforts public
You can publicize the accomplishments you have made in your programs through newsletters, emails, social media, websites, and bulletin boards. It is a perfect way to create awareness and acquire partnerships for your upcoming volunteer programs.
Challenges to be aware of when setting up a volunteer program
While volunteering offers immense value to employees and the company, it comes with several management challenges.
- Volunteer burnout: Sometimes, volunteers feel undervalued, overworked, and stressed. These situations often lead to volunteer burnout, leading to a decrease in their productivity. To avoid this, you can follow up on participants' experiences and probably add more volunteers if they are overworked.
- Volunteer retention: Participants who feel unvalued and unsupported in their previous volunteering efforts may decide to leave the organization, making retention a challenge. This is where recognizing, and rewarding volunteers provide much value.
- Availability: Finding enough available participants for shifts can be challenging, especially if you don't have an online platform. The best way to avoid this challenge is to invest in automated volunteer management software for the participants to register their availability for specific shifts. If someone cancels a shift, others who could be available will be notified immediately.
Key take away
Setting up a volunteer program at the company can yield multiple benefits such as better employee health, a boost in morale, strong employer brand. It's essential to plan your volunteering program well to be impactful, engaging, and sustainable. Volunteering is another step to ensure your employees are engaged and productive and reduce employee turnover while attracting more talent.