As HR Managers from Corporations search for various means to engage their employees through CSR Programs, employee volunteer programs come across as one of the most highly effective ways to keep employees engaged over the long term. This is mainly because corporations today understand that employee volunteering not only benefits the various stake holders of the company or the communities and the clientele that the company serves but also the individual employees.
CSR managers have observed that at the company level employee volunteering contributes to addressing a social problem or community’s need. At the same time it also contributes to enhancing corporate image, promoting staff training, improving networking skills, social awareness, motivation and moral, communication and team work among the staff members. At the same time it gives the employees an opportunity to contribute to society along with enhancing their personal growth, increased social awareness, networking skills, job satisfaction, personal contribution and achievement.
Recently, employee volunteering has taken on greater significance than ever before as seen from the growth in the number of corporations adopting employee engagement programs, even before compulsory CSR spending got mandated in the New Companies Act. Employee Volunteering is one of the major ways by which corporates can create value for people living in poverty and deprivation.
Key fundamentals to an effective employee volunteer program are an attractive logo that people can relate to and a catchy name. Once the program is in place, it is important to cultivate a willingness and eagerness among the employees to get involved in the volunteering effort. Companies must create a collaborative environment that encourages and inspires staff to participate. Volunteering allows employees to make a noticeable and measureable impact that the company can then communicate to stakeholders and the communities it serves.
HR Managers who have implemented employee engagement programmes say that “engaged employees find their workplace more fulfilling, meaningful, work harder and stay longer with corporations that provide such opportunities”. Companies are increasingly recognizing the importance of engaging their staff, as it has profound impacts on workplace morale as well as the company’s bottom line.
For instance, volunteering programs like that of DLF Group i.e. ‘DLF SAHYOG’ Volunteering Program, which involves mid-level and senior management, is a well-structured Corporate Volunteering Program where the employees are formally recruited, inducted, Trained and deployed for undertaking volunteering activities. There are also many other corporations like GE, Microsoft, AXA Group et al who have engaged their employees to encourage the spirit of volunteering apart from helping the underserved.
People ask why corporations venture into employee volunteering. Volunteering allows employees to make a perceptible and measureable impact that the corporations can proclaim to their stakeholders and the communities it serves. It endears employees to the company’s stated goals and strategic objectives.
To align an employee volunteering program with the employees’ expectations it is important to know one’s employees’ interest and skills. The reason being, the more you know them, the more you can target volunteer activities to them based on what they are interested in. This would also ensure that they can help the most and will do a better work when they are assigned with a volunteering task. This is because this will give them a greater sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. A skill-based approach to volunteering not only increases interest of employees but helps in maximizing the impact of the program on the target clienteles and the societies.
Employees feel engaged only when they become fully aware of the volunteering opportunities. Then, the question that comes up is on how to create a company wised movement, to enroll volunteers. This becomes more of a challenge when employees are spread out over many locations. It is the CSR managers and the HR Managers responsibility to make employees know where and how they can get involved. So a communication channel needs to be created using information and communication technology to its best advantage.
It is also very important to let the employees have an open channel of communication to tell you what has worked and what didn’t. They should have an opportunity to tell you what could be improved and how they wish to get engaged. The more your employees feel their voices are being heard and they are being supported in their volunteering causes the more they will feel engaged.
A successful employee engagement program calls for appropriate volunteer recognitions and rewards for the high achievers. Organize contests to get your employees involved and give appropriate prizes for activities such as a winning logo idea, or a winning program name. Honor the winners and declare it company wide. This way, you’ll have them interested creating a fun and engaged atmosphere for them right from the start. One also needs to recognize the role models in volunteering. A sincere and individualized recognition is very important. There are various ways to recognize employees such as featuring them in the internal communications and awarding the high achievers. You may also plan for an Annual Meet of Volunteers and recognize the high achievers, during that event.