Volunteering does more than help a nonprofit or encourage employee engagement. It can also be a vehicle for an employee to build professional skills and gain new experiences. When they volunteer, employees can practice valuable workplace skills out of the office, including critical thinking, project planning, time management, organization, communication, and teamwork. Employees also have the chance to try out work in a new field without making a long-term commitment, while also connecting with their community. Not only does volunteerism empower employees to make a positive difference in the lives of others, but it can strengthen their existing relationships and broaden their professional networks. They can also translate what they’ve learned back into the workplace, further benefiting the company that employs them.
To reap the benefits of volunteerism, however, your company must recognize that volunteer work is an actual opportunity for professional development — rather than just “something you have to offer.” Below are a few ways to ensure your employees experience professional and personal growth through your employee volunteer programs.
OUTLINE RESPONSIBILITIES AND GOALS IN YOUR VOLUNTEER PROGRAM
Make sure you clearly outline volunteer work as professional development in your employee volunteer program (EVP). Management can include a list of volunteer opportunity options, or have employees find and request appropriate opportunities for approval. If you allow employees to propose volunteer opportunities, ask that they explain why they chose this volunteer role and what skills and experiences it will provide for them.
It’s important that a manager and the employee volunteer meet to establish the expectations and goals for a volunteer experience. In that meeting, the manager and employee should talk about details that include:
- Time spent doing a specific job or task
- Amount of money raised or goods collected
- Project completion
- Pro bono work
- New areas of expertise explored
As a company, you can also decide if volunteer opportunities will be included in performance reviews, like other aspects of your employees’ duties. Decide if volunteerism will impact compensation, promotions, or new positions as well, and be sure to be transparent about these “metrics” in your EVP.
HOW TO FIND PROFESSIONAL VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
To help employees determine where they want to offer (and build) their skills, companies can build relationships with compatible nonprofits that align with their business or mission. This will provide your employees with expansive and meaningful volunteer experiences. When reaching out to a potential nonprofit partner, always ask for corporate references and vet their volunteer duties or roles to see if it’s a good fit for people on your team.
Using NobleHour, a volunteer tracking tool, and its community initiative, NobleBridge, can help connect companies with great nonprofit partners. When businesses join NobleHour, employers and volunteer teams can network and communicate with nonprofit organizations in their community (whether they have a partnership or not). Employees can find opportunities they are interested in, as well as log, track, and verify their volunteer hours. This makes it easy for their employer or volunteer management team to track their VTO and the type of efforts their employees engage in.
When searching for a nonprofit partner that can utilize your employees’ skills, don’t forget to consider all kinds of nonprofits, large and small. Smaller nonprofits may not have the same large-scale resources to offer or be as visible, but employees can be of huge value to these organizations. They can also take on new roles that allow them to expand, both personally and professionally! For example, a small nonprofit might ask company employees for expert help with finances, technical issues, project management, law advice, marketing practices, content writing, and more. Your employees can adopt roles they find interesting and that really make an impact, rather than only fundraising or setting up for events, as is common with larger nonprofits.
Ready to find volunteer opportunities for your employees? NobleHour can help.
Since 2007, NobleHour has proven to be the community engagement solution for organizations across the nation. Our plug ‘n play software connects companies, schools and individuals with nonprofits. Volunteer, measure the good you’re doing, and share it with others. It’s that simple.
With offices in Lakeland, FL, and Portland, OR, the we are dedicated to empowering good in communities across the country.
By NobleHour Special Contributor:
Latasha Doyle is a writer and long term care volunteer living outside of Denver, Colorado. When she’s not writing or volunteering, she enjoys crocheting, Netflix marathons, and planning her next trip.