How to influence more employees to engage in voluntary work
"How do I boost the number of applications for volunteer positions within my company?"
This is a question I get almost weekly from motivated companies who, through Deedmob, encourage their employees to volunteer for 1 day a year. Ironically, this is also the question that concerns charities, welfare organisations and volunteer centres.
However, before we can determine how to increase volunteering, we first need to paint a clear picture of the 'volunteer journey' and thus his or her mindset.
Every day we make all kinds of value judgements that guide our behaviour. Most of these judgements we make almost instantaneously and are the result of a (primal) instinct or gut feeling (like compassion, for example). Others we have thought through longer and see as corresponding to our principles.
Of course, we do not develop this moral compass in isolation from our living environment. On the contrary, it helps us to navigate in this world and to join groups that share our norms and values.
Within organised groups of people, such as companies, we therefore find that there is a need to define clear company values. These are different for each company and serve to equip an employee with a kind of collective identity. An example is 'shared responsibility for each other and the planet'.
When a company chooses to offer an employee time to volunteer, it is essential to ensure that this is in line with their personal values.
The success of a company volunteering policy is therefore often influenced by the way in which employees are encouraged to volunteer. Here it is important to distinguish daily obligations and work tasks from a volunteering activity.
In this way, a company offers autonomy to its employees to determine whether and how volunteering falls within their personal beliefs.
The goal of company volunteering from an employee engagement perspective is therefore that employees experience more 'purpose'. When an employee chooses to do something good for another, he or she can experience a boost of purpose and satisfaction that ultimately contributes to increased overall productivity.
The same autonomy needed to decide to volunteer also applies to choosing an activity or charity. At Deedmob, for example, we found that employees who were involved in choosing an activity or charity felt much more motivated and were more likely to volunteer.
There are people who only want to invest time in an activity where they make a measurable impact. For example, a fundraiser where the proceeds help an X number of people, or building something in the neighbourhood and being able to enjoy the end result themselves.
Others are keen to use their professional skills to help organisations. For example, Red Bull teams gave several workshops with charities on communication, marketing and sales.
Also, employees who are looking for connection and good conversation create value by going on a walk with elderly people or working as a buddy for young people.
It is by engaging with charities about their needs that stronger social impact can be made. Not only does this avoid a dependency problem (charities remaining dependent on external help or resources), but it also helps charities better define what they want to achieve and how they can do this most effectively.
When implementing a corporate volunteering programme, a company has two main goals. On the one hand, it would like to make as much positive impact in its society as possible. But for most companies, it is also an employee engagement tool, to awaken a sense of purpose in their employees.
It is important to understand that in order to achieve both goals, the programme must strive for structural, long-term change.
By allowing employees to be autonomous and encouraging them to decide for themselves how they want to contribute, you allow them, as a company, to determine how volunteering fits in with them.
Would you like to know more about #companyvolunteering? Then take a look on Deedmob!
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