Volunteerism has been shown to positively impact a person’s overall health, mood and performance in their professional work. This realization has brought to light the effect employee volunteering has not only on individual employee performance, but also on how a company meets corporate responsibility goals, business goals and provides employees with fulfilling careers.
Corporate volunteer programs have become an increasingly accepted (and effective) type of employee engagement program. In fact, did you know the most successful corporate volunteer program is the company-wide day of service?
What makes increasing employee volunteering difficult for some companies, however, is that smaller companies may not have the budget to establish thorough and inclusive employee volunteer programs. For those companies, incentivizing employee volunteering has to occur on a smaller scale and comes much more in the form of appreciation. Which is really a mindset all companies should try to mirror. According to a recent Interact/Harris Poll, the biggest communication issue that prevents effective leadership is not appreciating employees for their achievements.
So, for smaller companies or companies simply wanting to reward and appreciate employees for their volunteer efforts, here are 4 quick and easy ways to keep employee volunteering going!
#1. Incentivize Volunteers with Gift Cards
Encourage employees to volunteer by incentivizing with gift cards! While most companies can’t give every volunteer a gift card, you can give those who log the most hours, come up with new programs or give to brand new volunteers to increase participation. The budget a company has will determine if and how much to give, but employees will appreciate any amount. If you have a large workforce, offer this incentive to a select few or during a brief window, or as a raffle prize to be given monthly at random. This kind of gesture doesn’t just serve to engage employees in volunteering, but it’s a way to show appreciation for their volunteer efforts.
To do: Don’t forget to ask employees about the kinds of gift cards they’d be interested in. Managers should offer an incentive that is actually wanted, otherwise the gesture is not as powerful.
Get more information about the benefits of employee volunteering!
#2. Treat Employee Volunteers to Lunch
Perhaps a company encourages team volunteering (as they should). Most employees, particularly Millennials, prefer to volunteer with their coworkers and the team that logs the most hours of volunteering gets treated to a team lunch. This incentive works on the side of engagement and appreciation, but also it encourages social interaction amongst teams.
To do: Find space in the budget to take employee volunteers to a restaurant worth eating at. Please, no Taco Bell or Pizza Hut for these hard workers! Want to double down on your do-gooding for the day? Eat at a locally-owned restaurant and get to know your community!
#3. Give Paid Time Off
This incentive can be manageable no matter what size the company. Offering a day off to a dedicated employee volunteer is a great way to increase employee participation in volunteering because, depending on the parameters and resources of the company, it can be offered to one individual, a team, or a handful of employees from various departments.
To do: Set clear expectations on how employees can receive a day off in return for volunteer hours. That means outlining whether or not there is a minimum amount of hours, how many volunteers can win or if it’s a one-person kind of win. If your managers refuse to see volunteer PTO as “real” PTO, you’ll have an HR issue on your hands.
#4. Enter Volunteers in a Prize Drawing
While this is similar to giving gift cards, sometimes a prize drawing is a more exciting way to encourage employees to volunteer. For example, if the prize is something like an iPad, Plasma TV, or wireless home speaker system, most people would find those things useful and motivating.
Tip: Be mindful of the prizes you choose. As mentioned, the prize should appeal to the masses and provide enough incentive for them to do some serious volunteer work. Stay away from gender-specific prizes or prizes that aren’t practical for everyone to use like an annual subscription to GQ.
Incentivizing employee volunteer programs doesn’t have to be difficult for companies with smaller budgets. Employers just have to be a little bit more creative with their incentives and try to focus those efforts on really showing employees that their volunteer work is appreciated. Sometimes the best way to do that is through the simplest means.