Right now our nation­al unem­ploy­ment rate is 3.7%–edging towards a 50-year low. With this low rate, com­pa­nies are actu­al­ly find­ing it increas­ing­ly hard­er to hire and retain great tal­ent. One way to com­bat this issue is by increas­ing employ­ee engage­ment through volunteering.


In sur­vey after sur­vey, employ­ees state that they want to work for com­pa­nies who care for oth­ers.  In fact, “71% of employ­ees sur­veyed say it’s very impor­tant to work where cul­ture sup­ports vol­un­teer­ing,” accord­ing to America’s Char­i­ties Snap­shot. There are dif­fer­ent types of vol­un­teer options when look­ing to begin a vol­un­teer pro­gram at a com­pa­ny. For exam­ple, entire com­pa­nies can come togeth­er for a big “Day of Ser­vice” event.  Or per­haps there is an ongo­ing need in the com­mu­ni­ty, like Meals on Wheels, and employ­ees sign up to help when need­ed by the char­i­ty. Offer­ing pro bono ser­vices to non-prof­it com­mu­ni­ty groups or donat­ing skills for spe­cif­ic projects are oth­er ways to assist char­i­ties in your area.


The issue of time worked and pay typ­i­cal­ly comes up when talk­ing about employ­er sponsored/encouraged vol­un­teer­ing. There are a cou­ple dif­fer­ent ways that com­pa­nies struc­ture this. One way is to sim­ply pay employ­ees for their usu­al time at the work­place even though they are not actu­al­ly work­ing on com­pa­ny busi­ness at the time of the vol­un­teer project. This is typ­i­cal of big “Day of Ser­vice” cam­paigns dur­ing the work­week. Anoth­er way is to encour­age employ­ees to donate their break or lunch time to com­plete vol­un­teer ser­vice projects. Final­ly, and this is the emerg­ing trend in employ­ee ben­e­fits, is to give each employ­ee Vol­un­teer Time Off (VTO) hours as part of their ben­e­fits package.


The ben­e­fits of VTO are numer­ous. One of the biggest val­ues of VTO is that of employ­ee recruit­ment and reten­tion.  Price­wa­ter­house­C­oop­ers con­duct­ed a sur­vey and the results were that “59% of Mil­len­ni­als grav­i­tat­ed towards com­pa­nies with pro­nounced Cor­po­rate Social Respon­si­bil­i­ty pro­grams.”  For reten­tion, the val­ue is even high­er, “74% of employ­ees say their job is more ful­fill­ing when giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to make a pos­i­tive impact at work.” Com­pa­nies also see a ben­e­fit in cama­raderie across depart­ments and com­pa­ny hier­ar­chy. Work­ing togeth­er towards a com­mon goal builds these inter­de­part­men­tal rela­tion­ships. Also, by play­ing towards strengths unseen in a reg­u­lar office set­ting, employ­ers have a chance to dis­cov­er untapped lead­er­ship skills and com­plete­ly unknown skill sets of employ­ees. Final­ly, your company’s brand image is boost­ed by the view of its involve­ment in the community.


What­ev­er the ben­e­fit that your com­pa­ny assigns to a healthy VTO pro­gram, be it reten­tion, image, or team build­ing, the fact remains that there WILL BE a ben­e­fit. If you are look­ing to begin the search for the right fit­ting pro­gram, there are great resources avail­able for you. Check out this quick read on Charities.org and also the great tips on SalesForce.com. Start the con­ver­sa­tion today with your lead­er­ship and start mak­ing an impact in your community!