We sat down with VTLO Account Director Richelle Feigin, who has extensive expertise in corporate social responsibility (CSR) communications, employee awareness campaigns and employee engagement, to discuss the topic of employee volunteer programs.
Q: What are the benefits to establishing an employee volunteer program?
A: Whether it takes the form of a one-time assignment or an ongoing project, volunteering is good for business because it helps increase employee engagement. People who volunteer can enhance their organizational, leadership, communication, and decision-making skills, not to mention improve teamwork and time management competencies—all of which can serve as professional development. Volunteering also provides a refreshing, creative change from daily work, which improves morale.
Q: What makes a successful employee volunteer program?
A: There are several ways to encourage employees to participate and keep corporate philanthropy real. The first way is to organize local volunteer events. By giving back to nonprofit organizations in areas where employees live and work, companies can point out shared values and demonstrate support for causes close to employees’ hearts and homes. Second, companies can provide skills-based volunteering opportunities to help strengthen nonprofit organizations while offering employees a unique opportunity for professional development. Lastly, when companies find ways for employees to volunteer in a tangible way, they can increase employee engagement exponentially. Whether assembling and decorating wheelchairs to be donated to the disabled for increased mobility or working together to add trees, shrubs and flowers to schools and parks, employees love a hands-on approach to philanthropy.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you would offer to a business leader who wants to launch an employee volunteer program?
A: Use employee ambassadors – employees with volunteer experience who advocate for volunteerism and encourage colleagues to get involved. A creative marketing campaign by itself is good; however, leveraging employee ambassadors can produce even greater results. VTLO has seen evidence that ambassadors are a critical piece of the volunteerism puzzle. Employees are more likely to take action when they hear from a peer rather than an executive sponsor.
Q: Ambassadors can help deliver an organization’s corporate social responsibility messages. In your opinion, what qualities make a good ambassador?
A: Great question! I recorded a brief video (shown below) centered on this topic. I talk about the top three qualities needed in an ambassador to drive an organization’s philanthropic mission forward.