Would you volunteer time for your employees to volunteer?
With the job market hotter than ever, employers are looking for the best employee benefits to offer potential employees. It’s not enough to have great medical or dental insurance: high quality candidates are looking for employers that take it to the next level. One of the newest employee benefits gaining popularity in corporate America is VTO.
What is volunteer time off?
Volunteer time off is when a company offers paid time off for its employees to volunteer with nonprofit organizations. Volunteer time off is usually paid and is tracked separately from sick days or vacation days and are offered with a use it or lose it policy.
How does VTO work?
In most cases, a company will set aside a handful of days that employees can take to volunteer with an approved charity. Employees are not required to participate in VTO, but it does offer the option to employees who enjoy doing philanthropy.
Just how popular is VTO? It depends on who you ask. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) says around 21% of American companies offer VTO, while CECP claims more than 60% of enterprise-level companies are going all-in on VTO.
How is VTO good for business?
VTO is good for more than just optics. Implementing a VTO policy for your employees can help your business in more ways than one. Companies are seeing their investment into offering VTO returned in the form of better employee engagement, higher retention rates, and corporate visibility. Let’s break each of these down one by one.
If you work in recruiting or HR, you’re probably already aware that we’re living in a candidate's market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employees who are voluntarily quitting their jobs is higher than ever. There are more jobs on the market than people to fill the roles, which means companies need to compete to win top talent.
The good news is that VTO can help attract the attention of young, fresh talent. A report from Fortune showed that Millennials were more likely to work for a company that has a proven history of social activism and corporate volunteerism.
It might not seem like much, but think about it this way. If a potential employee is weighing two job offers and your company has the added perk of VTO, it could put you over the edge and help land your dream candidate.
We already mentioned that more employees are quitting their jobs voluntarily than ever before. One of the big reasons employees are jumping ship is the lack of flexibility offered employers. The 2019 Global Talent Trends Study showed that 51% of employees wish their company offered more flexible work options. And of all the offerings your company can give philanthropic employees, VTO is the most desired option.
Offering VTO is another way for your business to show your employees that you trust them to manage their time effectively. An article from NP Source showed employees who engaged in corporate giving programs tended to have 75% longer tenures with the company. When employees feel trusted at work, retention and employee loyalty increases.
It’s a no-brainer that having your employees volunteer with charities can increase your corporate visibility. This can come in the form of face-to-face interactions, posting on social media, and more. Turning your employees into employee brand ambassadors empowers them to represent your company in a positive light.
According to that same NP Source article, 90% of companies indicated that partnering with reputable nonprofit organizations enhances their brand and 89% believe partnering leverages their ability to improve the community.
There are countless ways you can promote your business through philanthropic work:
Organize volunteer days for the entire company to participate in together
Post photos of employees volunteering on social media
Write a press release highlighting the impact of your employee volunteers
Partner with nonprofits on big projects or initiatives
One company that is nailing their VTO strategy is Patagonia. They have an entire section of their website dedicated to employee activism where they highlight all of the programs their employees participate in, talk about the number of hours they’ve dedicated, and more.
The big focus of the HR and recruiting world recently has been centered around improving company culture. More businesses are making it a point to highlight their workplace culture as a way to retain current employees and recruit top talent.
A 2017 study from Project ROI showed that companies investing in corporate responsibility are seeing the fruits of their labor:
Turnover reduced by 50%
Employee productivity increase by up to 13%
Employee engagement increased by up to 7.5%
And that’s not all. A 2017 Glassdoor survey showed that 75% of employees expect their employer to get involved in charity work either through donations or volunteer efforts. And that same study showed that nearly half of all employees surveyed expect their employers to allow them to company time to advocate for social change through volunteering.
The rise in employees looking for growth opportunities has caused a shift in companies looking to help develop talent. Volunteering is one very popular way to build your resume and sharpen your skills, which is another reason many employees find VTO days attractive.
NP Source showed that 92% of surveyed HR executives agree that contributing business skills and expertise to a nonprofit can be an effective way to improve employees’ leadership and broader professional skill sets.
Encouraging your employees to seek out growth opportunities through VTO will allow your employees to network more effectively and discover new skills, all of which can make them more effective leaders in your company.
Tips for managing your VTO program
Now that you understand how VTO can help your business, you might be wondering how to create your own VTO program. It will take the work of several teams and buy-in from leadership to get a VTO program off the ground, but these tips can help streamline the process.
1. Organize your time-off request process
Most companies offer VTO separate from other paid time off offerings and as such, VTO requires a separate time-off request process.
This can be done by creating a volunteer time off form for your employees to complete and have approved by a manager before volunteering. Depending on the size of your company, you can choose to manage this team by team or company-wide. The choice is entirely yours.
Need help getting your VTO program off the ground?
2. Communicate with employees
If you’re planning on launching a VTO program, you’ll want to communicate the change with your employees. Take the time to make sure they understand who is eligible to participate, what the process for requesting time-off looks like, and what the expectations are for volunteering.
Managing your VTO program can be done without the use of software but many HR professionals find having a single located for all of these details useful. Companies that have more than a handful of employees might find a benefit in investing in a software solution to help launch their VTO program. A corporate volunteering platform can help you centralize all of your philanthropic initiatives in easy to access platform.
With a corporate volunteering platform you can track employee time off for VTO, provide tools to design, administer, and manage corporate volunteer initiatives, and track volunteer activity and efficiency. It also offers robust analytics tools that allow you to measure activity and program effectiveness and manage all employee volunteer information such as contact info, availability, skill sets, interests, and participation.
Philanthropy isn’t just trendy
It’s the right thing to do. There are few downsides to getting involved with corporate social responsibility. Your employees, your community, and your bottom-line will all thank you in the long run.
Looking for the right way to communicate your values as an organization? Check out our core values list with more than 222 different ideas to inspire your company value statement.
Lauren is a Content Marketing Team Lead at G2. You can find her work featured on CNBC, Yahoo Finance, and on the G2 Learning Hub. In her free time, Lauren enjoys watching true crime shows and spending time in the Chicago karaoke scene. (she/her/hers)