Benefits and Compensation

An Employee Volunteer Program Comes With Some Real Benefits

Does your organization offer some type of employee volunteering program? Some employers allow employees to take extra paid-time-off (PTO) days—beyond the standard allotment—when those days are used in a volunteer or community involvement capacity. Other organizations create entire volunteering programs—often partnered with specific nonprofits or local community organizations—for their employees to participate in. Although there are costs involved, these employers have found that there are many benefits that offset those costs. Let’s take a look at a few.

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Benefits of an Employee Volunteer Program

Here are some of the many benefits of administering an employee volunteer program:

  • Employee engagement, satisfaction, and morale can all be positively impacted. Helping others through volunteering can actually improve employee satisfaction levels—which then helps productivity and retention.
  • These programs can improve employee interpersonal relationships.
  • Promoting volunteerism can showcase the organization’s commitment to a particular cause (assuming the volunteer program is centered on that cause).
  • It can also improve the employer’s image for potential employees (the employment brand), which can improve recruiting efforts and make it easier to find employees who are a good cultural fit.
  • Volunteer programs can also improve the organization’s public image, showcasing it as an organization that does things for the greater social good. Customers like to do business with organizations they feel are doing good for the community, and employee volunteerism can improve this reputation and make organizations’ efforts more publicly visible, thus impacting the bottom line.
  • It can positively impact organizational culture by unifying people around shared goals.
  • It can encourage people who are interested in a cause (if a particular one is promoted) to apply to the organization.
  • Volunteering events can actually help employees improve their skills. Things like teamwork, problem solving, communication, and leadership skills can be enhanced through these types of programs.
  • Employees are more likely to speak highly of their employer to others, which also boosts the employment brand.
  • This type of program can pave the way for other organizational partnerships to happen.

Looking to Start an Employee Volunteer Program? Here Are Some Tips

If you don’t already have an employee volunteer program in place and want to start one, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Decide up front what types of programs you’re going to promote. For example, will you sponsor a specific volunteer program and pay for all associated costs for chosen employees? Or will you offer extra PTO (or unpaid leave) specifically for employees to use to volunteer in a capacity of their choosing? These are just two of many options.
  • Be sure to thoroughly communicate about the volunteer program, no matter how it is set up. It’s critical that employees understand what is on offer so they’re more likely to participate.
  • As with any new initiative, it needs to have organizational support. In other words, employees need to feel they truly can take the volunteer time without it negatively impacting their work—and steps will need to be taken to make that a reality.

Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.