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Last updated November 1, 2021

A Complete Employee Volunteering Guide

Volunteering opportunities are increasingly popular among employees. In fact, a recent study found that 89% of employees think organizations that sponsor volunteer activities offer a better overall working environment. 

We’ve put together this guide to ensure you know the ins and outs of employee volunteering programs and implement them successfully. 

First up, let’s understand exactly what’s meant by employee volunteering.

What is employee volunteering?

Employee volunteering consists of a planned and tracked effort to engage and enable employees to serve their community. The organization should lead this effort by presenting employees with the opportunity to effectively make an impact.

Employee volunteering programs are an essential part of any CSR initiative and a great way to empower your employees to help their communities. 

The recent shift to remote work has only created more opportunities to serve the community and innovative ways to engage your employees in their communities. Employees can now get involved from their own homes with resources and programs provided by their corporate volunteer program.

The impact of employee volunteerism 

A study on employee engagement found that nearly 75% of employees considered their job to be more fulfilling if presented with opportunities to make a positive impact at work. 

Employees are more concerned than ever with positive impact, and, according to the same study, 51% of people won’t work for an organization that doesn’t outline a clear social mission. The evidence for employee volunteerism is overwhelmingly positive—and not just for employees.

It’s also a well-known fact that engaged and empowered employees are more innovative and productive. Employees learn from skill-based volunteering opportunities by developing their professional and leadership skills.

Why are employee volunteer programs important?

Employee volunteering programs are important for a number of reasons. They’re a great way to engage your team and give back to the community. Depending on how you choose to volunteer, it’s also a great opportunity for your team to develop and share their skills. Here are some of the benefits of employee volunteering:

  1. They boost employee engagement and employee morale

The first benefit of corporate volunteer programs is more engaged employees. Employees who feel like they’re living their purpose at work have 5x higher engagement. More engaged employees are more:

  • productive
  • effective
  • innovative
  • likely to remain in their roles
  • likely to increase revenue

Engaged employees are also happier employees. A whopping 99% of employers and 97% of employees believe organizations are responsible for employee mental health. Physical and mental health are increasingly important to employees and are both essential parts of a company’s employee retention.

  1. Employee volunteering attracts better talent

More than half of millennials surveyed said that they are likely to factor a company’s commitment to the community into their decision if choosing between similar jobs. And that’s not a close half—61%—of people surveyed felt this way. It’s evident that corporate social responsibility is increasingly important to potential candidates, and you need to stand out.

Workers and consumers want things done differently, with 88% believing organizations should be proactively addressing social concerns and environmental issues. A strong employee volunteering program gives employees, new and old, the opportunity to support their community through work.

  1. Improve organizational branding and image

Employee volunteer programs are not only a great way to engage and empower your workforce, but also a great opportunity for organizations to show their commitment to communities. 

Despite strong support for companies taking on a bigger philanthropic role, only 37% of millennials surveyed believe companies are working towards this better society right now.

Stand out from the crowd by creating a dazzling corporate volunteer program and by offering ongoing volunteer opportunities to your engaged workforce.

3 Great employee volunteering program examples

Here are some of the organizations leading the way when it comes to corporate volunteerism. Take a look at what they’ve been able to achieve:

  1. PWC’s  virtual volunteering initiative 

PwC Switzerland organized an intern brainstorming session that not only helped their interns meet virtually but also applied their skills to solving challenges faced at participating nonprofits.

  1. BNP Paribas employee volunteering and giving program 

By implementing an easy-to-use online platform BNP Paribas was able to engage 40% of their workforce, with 260 employees giving more than 850 hours of their time to field volunteering.

  1. Frontier’s purpose-driven employee engagement program 

By solidifying their pre-existing and employee-led volunteering initiatives with Alaya’s employee engagement platform, Frontier engaged 59% of employees within seven months and increased engagement by 300% in the last three months.

How to start a volunteer program in 5 steps

Getting started on an employee volunteer program can be a daunting task for the HR team, but that shouldn’t stop it from happening. We’ve put together five steps to set you on the right path when starting a volunteer program.

  1. Align volunteering goals

It’s important to align your corporate volunteering efforts with your core business values. Outline what you want to achieve with your employee volunteer program and how that embodies your values.

Don’t stop there—find out what your workforce cares about. Employee input is essential when formulating your employee volunteer program as it provides insight into how they’re able to support their community. There are various ways in which workers can volunteer via their employers, such as:

  • Field volunteering: employees lend a hand on volunteering sites.
  • Virtual volunteering: employees can help no matter where they are.
  • Skills-based volunteering: employees use their skill set to solve issues and provide opportunities.

These approaches can be employed together or separately, and vary greatly in terms of cause benefited. Whether it’s volunteering at a local homeless shelter or advising a nonprofit’s management team, there are ample volunteer activities available to your employees.

  1. Access budget

The next step is securing the budget necessary to implement an employee volunteering strategy. 

Emphasize the benefits of engaged employees to the organization, both in the short and long term. Introduce and explain how your volunteering program will enable the HR team to achieve increased employee engagement, and how moving forward it’ll highlight the organization’s commitment to giving back.

Some points you can emphasize are:

  • Engaged employees are more innovative, productive, and profitable
  • 71% of US citizens want socially responsible corporations
  • An engaged workplace attracts new talent and optimizes company culture

The return on investment of corporate volunteering opportunities is seen in various aspects of the business, not just in employee engagement. It creates a positive image of the organization and your employees will greatly appreciate the chance to give back—the benefits are crystal clear.

If you’re looking for more ways to convince your CEO to invest in Employee Purpose, this resource could be a useful tool for you

  1. Discuss details with providers

Once you’ve received approval from upper management and accessed the budget necessary, it’s time to get into the details of your employee volunteering program. 

There’s a variety of solutions available to you and your team, and selecting the right one for you depends on specific organizational engagement goals and corporate volunteering policy.

  • Are you looking to connect employees online to give back? 
  • Do you want to provide them with chances to volunteer in the local community? 

Whatever your reason for aiming to engage employees with volunteering opportunities and however you wish to achieve them, there’s a solution to meet your needs.

Consider KPIs moving forward and how best to meet them and measure them. Each solution offers different features and capabilities, and reporting capabilities are essential no matter your goals. There’s no point in employing an engagement strategy if you’re not going to quantify its success.

Make sure to discuss the ins and outs of your desired solution to ensure you’re happy with the end results and opportunities. 

If you’re having trouble selecting the right CSR software partner for your company, check out this resource

  1. Engage employees in volunteering

Implementing an employee engagement volunteering solution is one thing. Engaging employees and getting them volunteering is another.

It’s essential to make sure employees know about the new opportunities and features available to them on the new platform. There are many ways you could do this, but here are a few we recommend:

  • Workshops and internal communications
  • Exciting team engagement opportunities
  • Endorsement from upper management
  • Focus groups for platform adoption
  • Leaderboards and in-app functionalities

The first step is getting employees to adopt the platform and initiatives, the next is to actually engage and enable them. Some solutions offer employee adoption tips and tools, so that’s another aspect to consider when picking your solution and creating your employee volunteering strategy.

  1. Solidify the culture

Set the new and improved workplace culture in stone by securing a long-term endorsement from existing employees and management. New employees should be introduced to their volunteering platform as soon as possible—many tools offer new employee onboarding solutions and support to ensure just this.

This is a really important step, as it determines corporate culture surrounding volunteering programs in the long run. New employees need to adopt the solution in order for its efficacy to continue, both for the business and the community. Ensure they do this by emphasizing how employee engagement is an integral part of the business.

Your all-in-one employee volunteering platform

Now you’ve got more of an idea of what a volunteering program is and how to implement one, it’d be a good time to chat about specific corporate volunteering solutions. There are various platforms available to businesses, all with different features and capabilities.

Alaya answers all your corporate volunteering needs and is a powerful employee engagement tool. Alaya connections and partners enable your organization to create impact locally and globally through exciting volunteering opportunities. Alaya’s main offerings when it comes to employee volunteering are:

  • Access to 1.5 million+ nonprofits: means your employees have access to millions of volunteering opportunities around the globe. Gain access to volunteering sites and details all over the world at the touch of a button. It couldn’t be any simpler.
  • ROI measurement: automated reporting & tracking tools give you an immediate overview of volunteer hours & engagement, and impact.
  • Manage and match employee donations: get a complete overview of employee donations and corporate matching efforts. Give employees the opportunity to make one-off donations in-app, or donate monthly via their payroll. Lead the way with corporate donations, too.

Alongside the volunteering opportunities Alaya provides, there are other solutions to engage employees. These include solutions to promote wellbeing at work and build a positive company culture.

To find out more about what Alaya can do for your team, get in touch to speak with the team and organize a demo.

Tips for encouraging volunteerism within the organization 

Implementing an employee volunteering program is no small task, and encouraging adoption can be tricky in any organization. Here are some tips to encourage and maintain volunteerism in the workplace:

  • Avoid traditional workplace hierarchy: instead of managers assuming leadership roles when volunteering, encourage younger, less-experienced team members to take control. It’s great for employee morale and ensures volunteering doesn’t just feel like an extension of the workday.
  • Consider paid volunteering time off (VTO): enable more employees to serve their community better. Paid time off to volunteer enables those with limited personal time to engage with positive initiatives.
  • Emphasize and integrate a culture of giving: with enough exposure to corporate and individual volunteering, employees will understand the importance of volunteering within the organization. This encourages both existing employees and new talent to adopt volunteering initiatives.

There are many ways to encourage volunteerism amongst employees and consistency is key. Strong leadership is essential for installing a culture of giving, and flexible approaches help when maintaining it.

To find out more about how Alaya can help you improve your corporate volunteerism, get in touch with the team.

Employee volunteering FAQs:

How do I create an employee volunteer program?

To create an employee volunteer program you should:
Align volunteering goals, access budget for implementation, discuss details with solution providers, engage employees in the workplace, and solidify the culture of giving.

How can corporate volunteerism be improved?

Corporate volunteerism can be improved by enabling and encouraging more workers to volunteer their time. Each organization’s volunteering efforts will differ from the next’s, however the above are some pretty solid ways to improve and promote your volunteering program