The popularity of volunteering programs in today’s workplaces has been growing, driven by the strong tendency of employees to take initiatives to help others. The opportunity to choose a charitable cause and devote one’s own time to outreach activities translates, above all, into increased employee engagement and team morale, also bringing a tangible benefit to the company. Employee-initiated projects are the first step towards an organized volunteering program. Why is it worth going in this direction, what benefits can we get (besides the smiles of the people we help), and how to implement it effectively?
Volunteering at a company – why is it worth it?
The opportunity to do good and help another human being inspires us to act and lights up our hearts. However, we realize that this won’t be a sufficient reason for every organization to take up the subject. So how can we successfully encourage and convince decision-makers?
- A sense of common purpose and building engagement
As employers, as well as team managers, we’re constantly wondering how to boost employee engagement. One of the elements that undoubtedly unite a team is a common goal. One that is equally important and meaningful to each of us and for which we don’t need to be convinced. And that’s what it most often is – helping others. Ideally, of course, employees should share the company’s “standard” goals, and this is an area that should be worked on as much as possible. This requires, first and foremost, clear communication of goals so that they are understood by all, and skillfully linking them to the goals of teams and the individual objectives of each person. However, if we can ensure that commitment is strengthened by implementing additional projects focused on the goals that are close to the employees, why shouldn’t we take advantage of this?
- Reinforcement and implementation of values
The organization’s support for CSR projects is a great reflection of company values such as cooperation, respect, and diversity. It shows that these values are put into practice, not just hung on the wall. Of course, the previously mentioned values must also be the core of business operations and be translated into the company’s daily activities, but again – why not reinforce them in other areas? Let’s remember that values and a sense of meaningful work unite people the most, especially these days.
- Developing project competencies and discovering new ones
Leading and settling a CSR project requires similar competencies as running other, business-oriented initiatives. Each project must be first planned and budgeted, the team should be organized, then the project should be led, and finally accounted for. So both project management and interpersonal competencies, such as effective communication, negotiation skills, and even motivating others, come in handy. All of these skills can be both discovered and developed through volunteering, and can then be put to use while carrying out duties from 9 am to 5 pm.
How to efficiently implement volunteering in an organization
To achieve the benefits described above, the volunteering program should be implemented according to certain principles. It’s not enough to allocate a certain budget for aid activities, it is necessary to take into account several key elements. These, among others, are the basis of Sii’s well-functioning Power Volunteers program, and we share them below.
- Autonomy and self-reliance
If we want employees to get involved, they should have the opportunity to co-determine the process and participate in the entire action or project. In our program, the grant formula works well. It involves a call for projects for the program twice a year. Employees submit proposals for aid actions that Sii could support financially or in terms of organization. To submit a project, you need to fill out a form, indicating the goal, the required support, and the activities to be carried out. The necessary minimum for the project is the involvement of two Sii employees willing to offer their time. Of course, more people can participate in the project and they may not exclusively be our Power People.
- Organizational framework and support
The initiative and ideas come from employees, but very often, especially at the beginning, there is only a concept. So they need hints both from the organizational side and in terms of the support they can expect. Help is also useful in the area of communication, promoting the project, and involving others in its implementation. We can observe that people, by default, are very keen to help, and as long as they are given tips on how they can do it, it virtually never happens that someone refuses. It is also important to define the financial framework – both for the entire program and how much support can be applied for, as well as suggestions on how much certain services or products to purchase for the project cost.
If we want to foster commitment and a sense of belonging among employees, the projects must be carried out together. Therefore, in addition to requiring a minimum of two Sii employees to be involved in a project, we create an entire support community consisting of the local HR department, the central communications department, and interested employees. We promote projects extensively and encourage participation using various communication tools.
These are the most important elements that ensure that the Power Volunteers program is not only of real help but also strengthens the commitment and develops the competencies of our employees. At the same time, as always, the devil is in the details.