Fringe Benefits

Benefits on the Rise: Volunteer Time Off

Ella Baker
Benefits on the Rise: Volunteer Time Off
Reading time 6 Mins
Published on Jul 4

Give your employees time to give back

The number of companies offering volunteer time off (VTO) as a benefit to their employees has increased dramatically in the last several years. VTO policies are quickly growing among companies that are committed to authentic community engagement and social responsibility programs. VTO is offered to eligible employees to participate in projects that enhance the communities where they live and where you do business. Since VTO doesn’t come from an employee’s sick or vacation time, you are offering them additional time and incentive to better the world around them – and it pays off for your business in increased brand image and loyalty. With 21% of American companies offering VTO already, maybe it’s time for your company to consider the many benefits of offering volunteer time off to your employees.

Corporate image

Beyond the intrinsic value of giving back to the community in which you do business and where your employees live, VTO can also promote your image and reputation, helping to drive profits and sustainability. From sales to goodwill, the internal and external benefits of VTO present a win-win situation for your company, your employees, and your community.

When you offer VTO, your employees can be your greatest PR. Great Place to Work found that employees that participate in VTO or corporate-encouraged volunteer efforts were four times more likely to spread the word of these efforts and to tell others about the company’s good works.

Employee recruitment and retention

As you strive to recruit and retain Millennial and Gen Z workers, VTO policies are a sure way to attract the attention of these talent pools. With both groups saying that they are more likely to work for a company with a history of social activism, VTO benefits can give you an edge over your competitors in landing top candidates.

Beyond recruitment, VTO and corporate volunteer programs also help increase retention rates. Not only do employees feel good about their jobs and your company, they are also more loyal to your business and display greater brand buy-in. Your employees are able to tangibly improve their leadership and team-building skills while giving back to the local community. All of these factors lead to increased retention as employees feel more engaged and empowered.

Professional development and growth opportunities

VTO also offers opportunities for professional development and job skills expansion for your employees. With these growth opportunities being one of the most commonly cited items on employee wish lists, your VTO program could help you boost your company’s image while giving your employees an edge in the workplace.

The Corporation for National and Community Service says 62.8 million adults volunteered for a charity in 2014. As more companies adopt VTO policies, that number will rise. While volunteering, most employees will perform job functions that are outside their typical skill sets or job duties. This expansion of practical skills is matched by the opportunity for exercising team-building skills, since many corporate-backed volunteer programs find employees working in groups. Additionally, your employees could use this opportunity to practice or hone their group leadership skills.

Implementing a VTO policy

If you are considering starting a VTO program at your business, you’ll need a clear policy for your employees. This policy should take into account the practical effect VTO will have on your daily business and how employees will qualify for and use their VTO.

Since many small- and mid-size businesses operate with a smaller number of employees, you’ll want to consider how much time you can afford to allow your employees to be away from the office. This will help you decide how many hours of VTO you can offer employees per year. Be sure to have a policy in place for how employees request VTO and that any time requested doesn’t interfere with your daily schedule. You’ll also want to consider how and when employees will become eligible to receive VTO. Some companies select a Day One approach, while other require employees to pass a 30, 60, or 90-day introductory period prior to participation. Others require at least one full year of employment prior to VTO eligibility.

Another consideration is how you’ll track and validate the use of VTO. Many payroll systems include categories for volunteer hours that can help you manage this piece. Additionally, you’ll want to set some basic ground rules concerning the kinds of volunteering efforts you want employees to engage in or specific organizations that you’d like to target with your company’s hours of service. Not only can these parameters help protect you in potential workers’ compensation situations, but they can also save you PR headaches from an employee being affiliated with an organization that doesn’t align with your business’ values.

Creating a written policy that addresses all of these factors, and others, will help to educate your employees about this new benefit and set the ground rules for how the program will operate. Your policy should take into account your goals and aims for your VTO program and ensure that your business is able to run smoothly, even when you have an employee out of the office for volunteer efforts.

VTO and Sheakley

The benefits of corporate volunteerism and VTO policies are both tangible and intangible. Many companies see significant increases in sales or customer loyalty due to their community engagement efforts, and other companies feel the greatest effects of these programs in employee retention and engagement. Whatever the aims of your program, employee empowerment is key to getting a full return on investment on your corporate volunteerism program. By giving your employees a voice in the decisions about the charitable efforts your company supports, you can create high levels of commitment and pride among your employees. Sheakley’s HR Management division can help you develop VTO policies for your employees that ensure the success of your volunteering programs.

Schedule your free consultation with a Sheakley HR professional today. Stay up-to-date on all things Sheakley by subscribing to our blog and following us on social media. Join in the discussion by commenting below.

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