Adding an Employee Volunteer Program to Your Business

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Employee Volunteering GraphsOver the course of the past 20 years, employee satisfaction at businesses has dipped 16%, according to a report by The Conference Board by TNS. Undoubtedly the hard economy, competitive job market, and business' tight budgets are creating a perfect storm affecting employee satisfaction. This in turn affects company performance across all sectors.

To combat this, some companies are turning to creating employee volunteer programs, which allow teams of employees to take a day off in exchange for volunteering at a local community service project.

These programs help employees work together, socialize, and have fun while taking company branding to the streets.

What are the Benefits of Employee Volunteer Programs?

According to researcher Cathleen Wild, "corporate volunteerism… improves how employees get along and deal with tough workplace issues." What is important about these programs is how it encourages employees to work together and see one another as teammates, rather than another face in another department.

AT&T's volunteer programs received quite a bit of press too, so if you take the initiative to contact your local news networks, your company can receive free press.

What's more important is that corporations who participated in these kinds of volunteer programs saw a change in employee attitude. They became more engaged, developed new friendships, and worked more closely together.

Companies ultimately save money because employees become happier with their current jobs and build friendships with team members. When planning these kinds of events, look for opportunities to put employee skills to work. For example, if your company offers call center services, you can volunteer your team for a non-profit call center during a fundraising event.

If you are interested in starting your own employee volunteer program, keep these basic steps in mind:

Gauge Interest, Determine Incentives

The first step in setting up a volunteer program is to start with a structure. You will want to gauge how many employees would be interested in participating in the program and what kind of volunteer work is both accessible to your employees and will represent your company well. You can hold a brief meeting to accomplish this. Don't forget to ask for suggestions on what kinds of community projects you can serve, too!

Additionally, you will want to establish what incentives you will offer employees who want to get involved. Will you allow an extra day off a month? Every six months? You can even provide free lunch to anyone who volunteers over the weekend.

Time for Signups!

So many companies start with great ideas, but don't turn the words into action. Set a date for the first volunteer day at least two months ahead of time so you have enough time for setup. Undoubtedly, your accounting and HR department will have their hands full filing away time off, identifying safety needs, and legal requirements regarding a volunteer program.

If you would like your employees to wear company shirts or pins, create a signup sheet for your program so you don't overspend. You will want to order product far ahead of schedule in case there are any mishaps with printing.

The Day of Volunteer

When you have your volunteer program in order, work with your team to decide who will be driving. It is best to have employees meet at your place of business at their regular work time. This will eliminate any confusion regarding start times and the location you will be volunteering at.

You will also want to arrange snacks, meals, and drinks for your volunteers. To keep volunteers together, create a schedule for the day, such as break and lunch times, and a time you expect everyone to leave.

A day of volunteer is a great opportunity to bring the office together and create a healthy, work environment. Consider bringing one to your offices this year!

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