National Volunteer Week is the perfect opportunity to create an Employee Volunteer Program (EVP) for your organization. Held annually, this week celebrates volunteers’ incredible contributions to their communities throughout the year. Organizations often hold events or activities to recognize the benefits of volunteer efforts and their civic impact.
Volunteerism is vital. It builds social connections, promotes wellness, and fosters a sense of purpose. National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to encourage the act of volunteering and to highlight areas of future need.
Today’s employees want to make an impact. Companies that offer employer-sponsored volunteer programs can attract and retain top talent while helping their employees impact the world through volunteerism. Human resource leaders and people teams boost employee engagement and promote a positive brand image by creating a company culture of volunteerism. And let’s be honest, top talent cares about brand image and companies giving back.
Let’s explore how you can celebrate National Volunteer Week by creating an Employee Volunteer Program and ensure its success by funding a Volunteer Reimbursement Wallet with a Lifestyle Spending Account (LSA).
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- When is National Volunteer Week?
- What is an Employee Volunteer Program?
- Benefits of Employee Volunteer Programs
- How to create an Employee Volunteer Program
- Establish a volunteer reimbursement with an LSA
When is National Volunteer Week?
National Volunteer Week is April 16-22, 2023. It begins on Sunday, April 16, with global Good Deeds Day and culminates with Earth Day on Saturday, April 22. During National Volunteer Week, organizations raise awareness, recognize amazing contributions, spotlight incredible nonprofit organizations, and inspire others to volunteer.
Small acts matter, and every individual has the power to make an impact. Change can start on a small scale and still be incredibly meaningful.
Chances are your people already engage in acts of service, whether they’re walking a dog for a sick neighbor or helping clean up a local park. Corporate volunteerism supports your people as they build stronger, more vibrant communities.
What is an Employee Volunteer Program?
An Employee Volunteer Program (EVP) is a company-sponsored initiative that encourages and incentivizes employees to volunteer for a cause or charitable organization of their choice. Employees are able to serve community needs during work hours with a Volunteer Reimbursement Program, or through company-sponsored events.
Various volunteer activities, such as environmental projects, charity events, and community service, can take place in a program. Company-wide service days, team-focused volunteerism, and individual volunteer opportunities are made available to employees.
Volunteer programs motivate employees to address needs in their communities, and put their time and resources where their values live, by working with causes they care about. Corporate volunteerism demonstrates a company’s commitment to making a positive impact on society as one piece of its corporate social responsibility mission.
Benefits of Employee Volunteer Programs
Employee Volunteer Programs not only benefits communities. They benefit employees and their companies as well. Employees enjoy stronger connections, higher total well-being, a sense of purpose, and leadership opportunities. Companies see improved employee retention and engagement, a nurtured culture of belonging, and a positive brand reputation.
Benefits of volunteerism to the employee
Individuals who volunteer are driven by a desire to have a positive impact, learn new skills and experiences, and make meaningful connections. Recognizing and promoting the benefits of volunteering to your people ensures that your EVP is highly effective and sustainable.
Employee volunteering brings teams together for the greater good and strengthens work relationships. 77% of millennials would prefer to volunteer with their coworkers, according to The Millennial Impact Report, and 64% of employees said volunteering with their coworkers strengthened work relationships.
UnitedHealthcare’s Doing Good is Good for You Study found employee volunteerism positively affects the health and well-being of the people who participate. 75% of U.S. adults feel physically healthier by volunteering. The mental and emotional benefits of volunteering are even greater, with 79% reporting lower stress levels, and 88% reporting increased self-esteem by giving back.
In the same UnitedHealthcare report, 94% of respondents said volunteering enriches their life with a sense of purpose. Deloitte’s Global Gen Z and Millennial Survey found that when workplaces support their volunteer efforts, employees feel engaged and empowered, and that positivity attracts more of these talented superstars.
Growth and leadership potential
Volunteering with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures enhances perspective and builds leadership skills. Many volunteer positions involve leadership roles, such as team leaders or project managers. Taking on a role as a team leader or project manager can strengthen communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and decision-making. It can also identify future organizational leaders.
Schedules are packed. Fitting time for volunteering into an already full workload can feel like a challenge. Companies that prioritize EVPs, as well as days of service and paid volunteer time, energize their people to volunteer. And they demonstrate their value for free time and a healthy work-life balance.
Benefits of volunteerism to the company
Encouraging employees to volunteer is core to a company’s commitment to being good corporate citizens and a corporate social responsibility mission. The benefits extend beyond the workforce and the community, strengthening business, workplace culture, and corporate partnerships.
Recruit top talent
Talent superstars are looking for socially responsible companies that offer meaningful opportunities for engagement and social impact. By sponsoring employee volunteerism, companies display positive workplace culture. And they position themselves as desirable organizations that live their social responsibility mission.
Boost employee satisfaction and engagement
Employee volunteerism can be a powerful tool for improving employee engagement and retention. When employees trust their company is committed to making a positive impact, they feel connected to the organization and its mission. This can lead to higher levels of employee satisfaction and professional loyalty.
Create a sense of belonging
Volunteering can provide a collaborative workplace culture where employees with a sense of purpose and fulfillment outside of their daily job duties. By working together to achieve common goals, employees can develop stronger relationships and a greater sense of belonging.
Promote a positive brand reputation
Companies on the leading edge of social responsibility have the advantage of a positive brand reputation. Top talent is seeking out positions with companies that prioritize their planet and people-first values. Consumers and investors increasingly expect companies to demonstrate their commitment to social and environmental issues, and employee volunteerism can be an effective way to do so.
How to create an Employee Volunteer Program
To create a culture of volunteerism with Employee Volunteer Programs, education, preparation, communication, and follow-through are crucial. While some volunteer work may seem more appealing, to do the greatest good, companies, and their employees must dedicate time and energy where it’s authentically needed the most.
Here is a step-by-step guide for creating an Employee Volunteer Program:
1. Assess needs and interests
When volunteering, it’s about working with a community, not for that community. As they share their time, energy, and skills, volunteers have as much to gain and learn from the experience as those they are supporting. A foundation of understanding will ensure an empathetic approach.
Identify the needs in your local community. Look at where your employees and offices are, and see what nonprofits are nearby or national organizations that align with your mission, vision, and values. Make sure to keep your distributed teams and global folks in mind! A volunteer reimbursement program can support the geographical diversity of an EVP.
2. Match interests and skills
Poll your employees to genuinely learn about their interests. Tap into your volunteer ERGs for ideas from past Employee Resource Group events. Your number one goal is to match community needs with employee passions. Whether it’s skills developed in the workplace or from a hobby, organizations thrive when people share their time and talents with others.
3. Align with mission, vision, and values
Each company comes to the table with different goals, values, and ideas for how they want to do good. With your corporate social responsibility mission in mind, identify volunteer opportunities that fit your company’s objectives.
4. Secure leadership buy-in
Everyone in the organization should be on board with your EVP. Company executives who back your initiatives will be more likely to motivate staff to join in and support time spent away from day-to-day work. And since leadership sets a powerful example, people are more likely to participate in volunteer programs when their managers and executives are involved.
5. Cultivate partnerships
By partnering with companies that share your values, you can amplify the impact of your Employee Volunteer Program and create transformative change in your community. Consider companies that operate in complementary industries – these partnerships open opportunities for more meaningful relationships and bigger collaborations in the future.
6. Publicize your efforts
With a fantastic Employee Volunteer Program and volunteer opportunities in place, spread the word to maintain momentum. Chances are, your employees are active consumers of media, allowing them to engage authentically with your updates. Strong communication plans and social media amplification are essential tools to recruit people, promote the program and energize efforts!
7. Host kick-off events
Hold a company-wide kick-off event. Or curate a list of volunteer event options for your employees. Variety (in-person, virtual, skills-based, family-friendly, or micro-volunteering) is the key to satisfying the time, interest, skills, and availability of all of your employees.
8. Measure success
Employee participation rates, including frequency and number of volunteer hours, help companies set realistic expectations. Impact assessments measure who is benefitting from the program, outcomes achieved, and improvements made. Feedback from your people and the communities with whom they work provides insight into successes, challenges, and areas for growth.
9. Recognize and reward
Recognizing and rewarding employees for their efforts is a great way to motivate them, and the same applies to volunteerism. Reward volunteer participation with gift cards, branded merchandise, and personalized experiences to show employees you appreciate them and incentivize volunteering.
Read more: 21 Creative Employee Recognition Ideas
Establish a volunteer reimbursement with an LSA
Companies and their people can be drivers of transformative social change in communities around the world. If you’re creating a new Employee Volunteer Program from scratch or reenergizing an existing one, National Volunteer Week is the perfect opportunity to showcase volunteer opportunities, celebrate your people’s efforts in their communities, and spotlight causes to champion.
A Lifestyle Spending Account (LSA) lends ultimate flexibility. Well beyond fitness reimbursements, LSAs allow freedom of choice to give back where it matters. Savvy HR leaders know their people care about and engage with their local communities.
Allow your people to put their volunteer time where their values are by creating a Volunteer Reimbursement Program through your LSA from Espresa. Set your people-positive policy to align with your LSA goals, with a volunteerism expense type. The ultimate, bolt-on customization for your people-first culture. Reach out to our team for a free demo!