Employee Volunteer Programs (EVP) are steadily growing in popularity as organizations realize that volunteerism is hugely beneficial for employees, companies, and the local community.
According to researchers from Southwest Missouri State University, a well-implemented company volunteer program has three significant benefits:
It increases job satisfaction.
It improves employees’ skills (especially teamwork, communication, project management, and leadership).
It increases organizational commitment.
EVP programs are also great for companies, as research from the Points of Light Foundation found that 60% of businesses with EVPs believe they enhance the company climate.
Steps to Implement a Volunteer Program
Any company can implement a successful company volunteer program with little patience and practice. To get you started with your EVP, here are six steps you can follow to implement a rewarding program.
#1: Identify EVP Objectives
Before you can plan and propose a successful volunteer program, you need to set your EVP objectives. Objectives include two key things: what your volunteer program will do for your community and your employees.
It's best to design your company volunteer program with feedback from your employees, so it’s important to ask what objectives they would like to work towards. Make sure you set a brainstorming session with potential volunteers before deciding on a goal, as the best EVP projects come from employees with passion.
It’s also essential to choose an objective that people care about to ensure your EVP program has little churn.
#2: Gain Approval from Senior Management
Your company volunteer program needs senior management support before you can get started. This is likely to include your CEO, your director of operations, and your human resources department, as your EVP will require employees to leave their regular duties while volunteering. To maximize your chances of approval, emphasize the benefits of your EVP program for your employees and company.
Once you’ve greenlit your project, it’s time to plan.
#3: Find Partnership Opportunities
While you can plan your company volunteering program in-house, your EVP will be more successful if you partner with a non-profit organization. A partnership organization can provide you with the knowledge and resources to carry out your project, helping you put more time directly into the cause.
When choosing a partnership opportunity, avoid political and potentially controversial topics as these can alienate employees. Instead, determine a cause that’s local to your area. For example, you might want to partner with your local council, park authority, or school.
The most beneficial EVP programs combine volunteering with an opportunity to learn. To enhance your EVP, create a short online course or conduct webinars that teach employees new skills they can use while volunteering.
#4: Quantify and Evaluate
Successful EVPs take pre-planning, but they also assess the success of the program. This is done by quantifying the EVP’s objectives and evaluating if those objectives were met.
To quantify the success, collect statistics like:
- The number of volunteers who participated
- The amount of time volunteers donated
- The amount of money raised
- The amount of work done
Before you can finish evaluating, you’ll also need to collect feedback from volunteers. This survey, collected through assessment software, should focus on more qualitative metrics, like how your employees feel about the program and what they learned.
Once you’ve performed a full evaluation, share it with your volunteers, your managers, and your company at large. If you are going to continue your EVP program, you should also use your evaluation to set recommendations for your next project.
#5: Recognize and Reward
Although volunteering is very rewarding, don’t forget to celebrate your employees’ hard work by recognizing and rewarding everyone who participated. The best way to do this is to hold a post-project party where your employees can enjoy a well-earned break together. You can supplement the party with a short awards ceremony, which is excellent for highlighting key employees’ hard work and injecting some light-hearted fun into the party.
Another great way to recognize your employees is to share the fruits of their hard work with the local media. Publicizing your EVP program benefits everyone, as it celebrates your hardworking employees and maximizes your PR outreach.
#6: Create a Volunteer Culture
Your EVP doesn’t end when your project finishes. To keep your EVP program fresh, create a culture of volunteering in your organization. While company culture is organization-specific, you can foster a culture of volunteering by involving employees in EVP planning, offering incentives for volunteering, and rewarding volunteers.
To keep volunteer culture going after an EVP project has ended, try establishing communication channels between employees. You can do this with a team chat app or a simple message board.
Establishing a company volunteer program is an ongoing project with the potential to transform your workplace. Embracing a culture of giving, volunteering, and learning in your company will benefit everyone - including your company’s bottom line.
Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association, SCORE.org
Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.