Team volunteering is a great employee engagement tool. Cassandra Smallman tells TJ how you can help employees apply their individual skills when volunteering together.
Corporations are not only looking at their bottom line but also focusing on the positive impact they make in the world as ways to improve their company culture and outward reputation. As part of many businesses’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, volunteer programs are becoming more common within the for-profit sector.
Corporate volunteerism is one of the most engaging and fulfilling CSR options. It brings employees together to support a worthy cause where they can use their skills for good.
Not to mention, volunteering together can improve the quality of volunteer work and multiply your company’s impact. However, in a team volunteering environment, it can be difficult to apply individuals’ skills in a productive and rewarding way.
To help, this article will explore how you can harness your employees’ skills to have a positive influence on your community while fostering greater teamwork and engagement.
The benefits of applying individual skills in team volunteering
How much time and resources go into team building and creating company culture? Each activity can cost between $25 and $500 per employee. Imagine the impact that employee time and budget could have on a local nonprofit.
Increasing employee engagement and satisfaction is a core goal of most organizations’ employee volunteering programs because it offers employers and employees a lot of upsides. Here are some statistics that convey the benefits of increased employee engagement:
- According to a Deloitte survey, 70% of working Americans believe “volunteer activities are more likely to boost employee morale than company-sponsored happy hours.”
- A Gallup study found that highly engaged workplaces see 41% lower absenteeism.
- 75% of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as “very important.”
- Engaged employees are 17% more productive than their peers.
- Teams with higher levels of engagement achieve 10% higher customer scores and a 20% increase in sales than those on the lower end.
There are many ways to run a corporate volunteer program, and in order to maximise employee engagement, you need to include staff in the planning process.
Consider partnering with nonprofits that have existing volunteer opportunities to help get the ball rolling at first, and then company leadership can post additional volunteer opportunities that their team can sign up for based on their interests and skills.
The challenges of skills-based volunteering
Planning a corporate volunteer program doesn’t come without its challenges. Some upfront administrative investment is required, but the positive impact on society and strategic employee empowerment are well worth the effort.
Skills-based employee volunteerism requires collecting information about employee skills, qualifications, certifications, and interests. In order to collect employee volunteer data, you need to match the right employee with the right volunteer opportunity. Consider investing in a purpose-built solution like a volunteer management system. This will allow you to avoid administrative headaches, save time, and achieve great outcomes from day one.
Tips for applying individual skills with team volunteering
Before you commit to partnerships with nonprofits, it is important to understand your employees’ preferences. The more interested employees are in the cause and the work itself, the more engaged in the program they will be, and the better they’ll perform in their role. Let’s walk through four easy best practices that your team can implement to make the most of your corporate volunteerism.
Collect employees’ skills
Collecting and managing employees’ skill and qualification data is the core component of operating a successful skills-based employee program. Here is a list of key data points to collect from your employees during the signup process to help create and manage a skills-based employee volunteer program:
- Verticals of Interest – Build a drop-down question with common volunteer verticals of interest, such as animal welfare, community service, and sports management.
- Skills – List common skills for employees to select, and include a rich text field to add additional skills. The more skill data you collect, the more equipped you’ll be to pair them with engaging tasks.
- Qualifications and Certifications – Ask employees to list any relevant qualifications or certifications they have. This can be anything from a driver’s license to first aid training.
Once you have collected this information, it is time to start matching or suggesting the best volunteer opportunities to each employee based on those data points. Taking this approach allows you to provide more engaging activities and set your workers up for success.
Understand which abilities pair with specific tasks
Once you have a good idea of your employees’ skills and interests, it’s time to discuss volunteer programme options. Reach out to local nonprofits whose causes are of interest to a large number of your employees, and ask to line up some volunteer opportunities to promote your program.
These opportunities should contain detailed descriptions that outline the necessary skills and task requirements. By defining what skills are required for each volunteer role or shift, any employee who signs up to volunteer will be aware of the scope of work they will be doing. This ultimately ensures that everyone understands what to expect, which results in a better volunteer experience all around.
Use skills-based matchmaking tools
Now that you have all the information employee data you need to place employees into volunteer roles, it’s time to start the matching process. This is where a purpose-built volunteer-managed software can do the heavy lifting for you.
Volunteer management software will take all your employees’ skills and interests and automatically match the right employee to the right volunteer opportunity based on those data points. There’s no spreadsheets and no confusion, just the right volunteers in the right roles.
Ask employees for their input
As you run your employee volunteer program, it is essential to make sure you involve the employees who participate. Consider allowing the employee to find and post volunteer opportunities for others to join and participate in. Remember, any corporate volunteer program’s main goal is to increase employee engagement and fulfillment, so the more participation, the better.
Creating a skills-based employee volunteer program doesn’t need to be difficult with the right tools and clear goals. Helping your employees harness their skills for goodwill not only leaves them more motivated and engaged but will also greatly enhance their perception of their workplace.
Start considering how you can effectively implement an employee volunteer program that makes the most of your employees’ skills.
About the author
Cassandra Smallman is head of marketing at InitLive.