Welcome to November! As we progress towards the holiday season, it’s important to think of others. We are reminded to be selfless. It’s common to reflect on our position and how we can support family, friends, and those around us. This is a great time to think about opportunities to make a difference by volunteering. Whether volunteering as an individual or taking employee volunteer time off.
The concept of Employee Volunteer Time Off has been around for some time. Businesses have been incorporating volunteer time off to engage employees. Employees are even hopeful to have these days when selecting a new job. To ensure you’re up to speed, let’s review VTO (volunteer time off) and why you should offer it as a benefit to your employees. Further, why that should be paid VTO vs. Unpaid VTO.
What Is Volunteer Time Off?
Employee VTO is when a company of any size decides to give their employees time off to volunteer. Instead of being at work, an employee can volunteer for the day or for a couple of hours. Truly any VTO benefit is great! If your team does not currently offer employee volunteer hours, consider offering 2, 4, or 6 hours in your first year. Many companies think about VTO in terms of days, as well. Offering 1 – 5 days of VTO (8 to 40 hours a year). This can include mentoring, helping local food shelters, or supporting charity events. Individuals and teams can even volunteer virtually!
Recently, VTO has been increasing in workplaces as employers are taking social responsibility more seriously. Employees view programs like VTO as a benefit. Employees want purpose in the workplace. These programs can help distinguish your company from others, and help to recruit the best of employees.
If you were a new hire / looking for a job, which would you choose? Let’s say you have 2 companies that are looking for new hires.
- Company 1 actively participates in volunteering around the neighborhood, donates to charities, and helps students. Overall, has a great brand image!
- Company 2 disregards any social responsibility and really focuses on generating profits. Brand image is neutral to the public.
Pretty obvious, right? Company 1 would have an easier time hiring and would get better talent to apply. More applicants would apply and long-term sustainability would be far better. In fact, employees will sacrifice a higher pay to be at company 1. Let’s face it, we like to help others and give back as people. We love this purpose in the workplace.
Paid VTO or Unpaid VTO?
Now, we recognize that every company is unique. Your team may be restructuring or just starting your second year of business. To maximize volunteer time off, we suggest making it a paid benefit. This is the best way to encourage your team to get involved. We know employees don’t love sacrificing their workdays to do unpaid work. However, if paid VTO is not an option for your team, we still encourage letting employees take unpaid time. For example, as a mentor, it may be nice to take off and go to your mentee’s school for lunch, regardless if that time is paid or unpaid.
We know offering another benefit and allowing volunteering on workdays is an extra item to manage, yet the benefits far outweigh any challenges. By paying employees for volunteer work, you are allowing them to engage with the virtual or in-person communities around you. In turn your company retains, recruits, and engages with the best of employees.
Examples of Volunteer Time Off
A socially responsible company is a happy company. Volunteer time off is just one of the ways a company can give back. For more insight on Corporate philanthropy, check out our previous blog. You can review more aspects of corporate philanthropy. For now, let’s keep it focused on VTO 🙂
You can encourage individual volunteer time or you can suggest a group day of service. You can opt to organize specific volunteer days with local schools, food pantries, and any other organizations around your area. Always a great way to increase the employee engagement and boost team morale!
Examples of volunteer time off can include:
- Building houses with Habitat for Humanity
- Volunteering at food banks
- Cleaning up local parks/trails/beaches
- Becoming a Big Brother/Big Sister
- Helping local hospitals
- Serving on nonprofit boards
- And so much more!
Want to get involved today? Check out this volunteer opportunity to help students learn about health and wellness. If you need virtual volunteering, you can check that out here, as well! Remember, volunteering is just one of the many ways you can give back. There are countless ways you can help to improve the communities around you. Enjoy spreading goodness and purpose in the workplace! It only takes one step at a time.