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Building an Employee Volunteer Program

untitledSo how do you find the best employees, make them happy, increase productivity AND look good doing it? Chris Jarvis, co-founder and Senior Partner of Realized Worth, a consulting firm focused on engaging employees in Corporate Citizenship programs, believes that a successfully implemented Employee Volunteer Program (EVP) can meet all of these objectives.

In an interview with Chris posted on Cause Capitalism, he outlines the process and common questions about EVPs.

Benefits of a corporate volunteer program:

Consumers and Community

  1. Increased customer loyalty
  2. Improved customer satisfaction (due to happier, mission-oriented employees)
  3. Enhanced public image
  4. Better community relations

Employees

  1. Skill development for employees, specifically in planning, budgeting, negotiating and leadership
  2. Better employee attitude, higher job satisfaction and increased positive word of mouth among employees about their employer
  3. Direct savings: an average of $500 in employee training per employee, per year, as well as recruitment and turnover cost savings
  4. Recruitment tool, particularly attractive to Gen Y
  5. Increased morale and productivity
  6. Differentiated and more cooperative company culture

Social Mission

  1. Employees became part of your social mission and carry it out to the community

Conditions to consider when building your company’s EVP

Structure. What does the program look like? How many hours will be volunteered? Over what time period? Will people volunteer as a group or individually? When will the program take place? Will there be dollars for doers?

Movement. “People have to have a sense of achievement. They have to think, ‘Okay, we’re starting from here and we’re working to get there,” says Chris. Companies should form partnerships with nonprofits and get very clear about what the program will accomplish and what resources it will require from the company and the nonprofit. Create milestones that will give you a sense of success. This message then needs to be communicated to employees of the business and the nonprofit.

Motivation. How do employees personally benefit from volunteering? The business and the nonprofit have specific reasons, but the motivation for employees usually gets ignored. Take time to talk to your employees (interviews or an evaluation or survey) to find out what they’re already doing and what they’re interested in doing.  Maybe the company wants to build on a certain interest area that employees share or, create a combination of a company-focused activity that also facilitates the individual interests of the group.

Space. First-time volunteers are “extrinsically motivated. They’re not sure exactly why they’re there.”  Don’t expect too much from the first-time volunteer. Give them the experience and let them move on if it’s not right.  The less obligation you put on the person at the beginning, the more likely they’ll find space to own it themselves.  The business and nonprofit need to collaborate on finding the right volunteer opportunities that allow people to try out a project and leave, or try it out develop a relationship with the nonprofit.

Now what?  Well the next step is to partner with a non-profit and we’d love for you to partner with must! charities.  Contact us to find out more about brand alignment with Employee Volunteer Programs.