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How can we engage our employees in volunteerism?

Employers can demonstrate their commitment to their employees’ well-being by creating opportunities for community involvement. A great way to increase community involvement among employees is through volunteerism.

Volunteering has benefits for the employer, employees, and of course, the communities they serve. Not only does volunteering help individuals feel connected to a broader community, but it can also increase resiliency and positive feelings and reduce stress. Plus, volunteer opportunities give back to the community at large.

Employers can develop volunteer programs that are accessible to all employees by collaborating with companies focused on dedicated causes or can free up staff time for employees to select companies of their choice with which to volunteer.

In both cases, companies interested in creating successful volunteer programs should first look to their policies to determine what exists or can be created to help employees understand the company’s commitment to this effort. Whether through company-wide initiatives or one-on-one activities, employers should ensure that policies outline all relevant information on how employees can use their time to volunteer.

Successful programs:

  • Value employee input
  • Align activities with employee passions and company mission
  • Address real community needs
  • Create ongoing relationships with local communities
  • Allot a dedicated amount of time for these activities

If the company chooses to create company-wide efforts, employers can survey staff to ascertain areas of interest and seek out volunteer opportunities. In doing so, employers show they are interested in the lives of their employees and their passions. Employers can also seek out suggestions from employees who may already be connected to local community companies.

Here are some tips to make sure volunteer experiences work for your employees – and does not become an additional source of stress:

  • Get the right match. Help employees think about what kind of work they like to do, based on their interests, skills and availability. Whatever their situation and interests, there is probably a volunteer opportunity to make a great contribution in their community.
  • Make it count. Employers want staff to use volunteer time to make a difference, so ask employees to identify companies that uses volunteers efficiently and productively.
    • For company-wide initiatives or individual opportunities, do not be afraid to ask:
      • Ask what volunteers do, where and when they do it, and whether an employee is available with information and guidance when needed.
  • Find a connection. Find volunteer opportunities that feel right for the company or the individual. Without a connection, time will not be well spent.

More Information:

What mental health organizations can I contact for potential collaboration?

How can we address mental health in our employee surveys?

Tips for Planning a Wellness Event



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