What is a best practice for creating a volunteer time off program at your company?
To help you create an effective Volunteer Time Off program at your company, we asked HR managers and business leaders this question for their best insights. From matching the employees’ volunteer efforts to tracking and rewarding volunteer hours, there are several tips that you may adopt as best practices in creating a meaningful Volunteer Time Off program at your company.
Here are10 tips for creating a Volunteer Time Off program:
- Match Employees’ Volunteer Efforts
- Start a Dedicated Slack Channel
- Center Employee Input To Create Authenticity
- Set Goals for The Program
- Make Sure It’s a Voluntary Service
- Create Templates for Time and Activity Volunteered
- Choose a Company-Culture Aligned Cause
- Lead by Example
- Schedule Your VTO in Advance
- Track and Reward Volunteer Hours
Match Employees’ Volunteer Efforts
You can match your company’s volunteer efforts through corporate donations in the same field. We follow a similar program where not only do the employees get paid for their day off, but an amount equal to their payday is donated to the cause they have volunteered for. This encourages the employees to indulge in volunteer work and give back to the local community. Moreover, the employees are allowed to use the company’s contacts and non-monetary resources to help with the non-profit organization’s needs. This can help them get better deals from suppliers or make it easier to raise funds.
Antreas Koutis, Financer
Start a Dedicated Slack Channel
The volunteer program should be a chance to share good work with others. A Slack channel brings a sense of community to your volunteer program within the workplace. New Slack features allow people outside the company to contribute as well, sharing information about new opportunities and successes with the rest. You can even make a public channel so new employees can see their opportunities and join if they like, and a private channel for volunteers only.
Shawn Plummer, The Annuity Expert
Center Employee Input To Create Authenticity
In order to establish a VTO program that reflects authenticity over performative or strategic social impact, center the voices and ideas of your employees. Leveraging your employee’s enthusiasm, and their own genuine causes will set the entire program up for success, building a positive feedback loop between your organizational culture and your community. We’ve got to remember that the collective human qualities within our organization is the greatest asset to any VTO, and any consistent long-term success requires foundational input from your staff.
Stephan Baldwin, Assisted Living Center
Set Goals for The Program
It’s one thing to decide to start a volunteer time off program in your company, but it’s another thing altogether to decide exactly why you are doing it. To prevent your program from becoming disjointed, or chaotic even, it’s always a good idea to set some goals for your program before you get down to the business of running it.
Start off by deciding the reasons why you want to get involved and consider how many staff you would like to volunteer, as well as the amount of time you are aiming to donate to the causes you are supporting. Once you have settled on the resources you can afford to spare for your program you can go on to consider how and where those resources can be used to have the most impact.
Colin Toh, Headphonesty
Make Sure It’s a Voluntary Service
We embraced volunteer work in our community during the pandemic. With a lot of elderly people scared to go out to do their shopping, we used an hour every week, for employees that wanted to volunteer to help someone out with shopping for basic groceries or just a friendly check-in to see how they were doing. Relationships like this boost morale with employees as well as give a small service back to your local citizens.
My tip would be to make sure it’s voluntary, with no incentives or potential company backlash. A lot of employees are already dealing with fragile family members and friends who they help out – they are already doing social service, so don’t need any extra pressures on their time.
Evan McCarthy, Sporting Smiles
Create Templates for Time and Activity Volunteered
After you have agreements with local organizations that align with your company’s mission, create a template for them to sign off on that shows employee time and activity volunteered. It’s not that you don’t believe the employee, it just gives your company, their organization and the volunteer some physical verification that the time was spent toward a beneficial service.
Anamika Goyal, Cottage
Choose a Company-Culture Aligned Cause
One way to encourage your employees to participate in a volunteer time off program is to choose a cause aligned with your company culture. Even how idealistic or excellent a company VTO program is, it’s meaningless if it’s not embedded in your organization’s core values and principles. For instance, if your company culture focuses on manufacturing eco-friendly products, you can create a VTO program that supports environmental projects, such as tree-planting or seashore cleaning activities.
Lorraine Daisy Resuello, Connection Copilot
Lead by Example
Encourage management and executives to participate in the VTO program. Once you’ve established the guidelines for volunteer time off, starting small with a few hours a month, you can lead by example. You can use some of the hours as an opportunity to build deeper relationships between team members by volunteering together. When leaders get involved in the program, they inspire team members to do the same, supporting the community and boosting employee engagement.
Alexandra Fennell, Attn: Grace
Schedule Your VTO in Advance
By scheduling a VTO in advance and getting approval from their direct manager, employees and managers can organize how to cover the work that needs to be done in advance and make sure that the VTO does not impact the workflow, delay deadlines or cause any bottlenecks. Getting organized and allowing all parties to be onboard is a crucial part of allowing employees to get the satisfaction they need out of VTO without affecting our work.
Zachary Weiner, Finance Hire
Track and Reward Volunteer Hours
While volunteering is rewarding in itself, rewarding and recognizing employees’ volunteer efforts can further encourage the behavior and provide greater awareness for other employees about such programs. A recognition system may include creating a bulletin board (whether virtual or physical) and publicizing the names of employees who have volunteered the most hours, giving out rewards such as gift cards, or providing other forms of incentives.
Linda Shaffer, Checkr