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Home » Employee Engagement, Culture, Leadership, Management, Talent Management

Use an Employee Volunteer Program (EVP) to Drive Engagement

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helping-handsEvery organization must work to keep employees engaged. For some organizations, the work of employee engagement is a breeze. For others, it’s a struggle. When organizations are struggling with employee engagement, increasing satisfaction through efforts like pride in the company, empowerment to enact change, and appreciation that goes beyond the financial go a long way.

If your organization is looking for a way to increase employee engagement, consider creating an employee volunteer program (EVP). When planned and implemented properly, EVPs are one of the most powerful ways to boost the fulfillment employees feel with their jobs and the organization.

Start with Goals

Don’t let employee engagement be the goal of your organization’s EVP. Instead, gather a group of individuals within your organization you know already participate in volunteer efforts and have done so for a significant length of time.

These employees will understand that the goals of the EVP should be in line with the values of the organization. If your organization values its strong ties to the community, one goal can be to use the EVP to help lower crime within that community.

Your EVP team should also incorporate public relations into its goals. Instead of fearing the use of an EVP as a marketing and recruiting tactic, it should be embraced as one. It’s likely that your employees who engage in charitable giving and acts are already recognized in public as members of your organization. Use this visibility to your organization’s advantage, as it improves not only its visibility but its reputation.

Look to Skills

Many niche organizations partner with a similar charitable organization for regular volunteer work. These partnerships usually result in scheduled days of volunteering, where the entire staff is paid by the organization to give their time to the charity of choice.

However, if your organization is smaller, or your EVP planning team wants to make a wider impact on the community than a partnership with a single charity can, look to the skills-based volunteering model. Skills-based volunteering (SBV) allows individuals or groups of individuals to use their personal or professional skills as the bases for their volunteering efforts.

By building your EVP around your employees’ skills, you allow your organization to participate in multiple charitable endeavors, expanding your organization’s engagement with the community and with its employees. Employees volunteer because they have a personal connection, not because their organization has directed them to do so. SBV programs motivate employees to volunteer for charities and nonprofits to which they have a connection, thereby naturally raising their engagement level.

Recognize the Efforts

Volunteers do not volunteer for the recognition or the rewards. Yet no one truly wants their efforts to go unnoticed. Kevin Kruse summed employee engagement up for Inc42 in one sentence: “People give loyalty and discretionary effort to those who foster growth, show appreciation, share a compelling vision and are trustworthy.”

When your organization creates an EVP, this is actually the start of showing appreciation for employees’ efforts. Incorporate the EVP into the organization’s reward program or recognition structure in order to make employee volunteer recognition a permanent part of organizational culture. Private organizations can match employees’ monetary contributions as part of an EVP recognition structure. Some even offer paid time off for the volunteer work employees do as part of the EVP.

This kind of recognition will build employee engagement, as it not only offers employees’ incentives to volunteer but to be part of the organization as a whole. Yet recognizing employees’ volunteer efforts need not be financial. Volunteer spotlights in employee publications or even a verbal recognition can go a long way to engaging employees in the culture of the organization.

If your organization is starting from the ground up with its EVP, research those of other organizations in your community. The companies who are doing volunteering and employee engagement right will be the ones your community is talking about; use their EVPs as examples for your own organization, and you can be successful at charitable work and employee engagement.

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H. E. James
Hattie is a writer and researcher living in Boise, Idaho, and has a varied background, including education and sports journalism. She is a former electronic content manager and analyst for a government agency. Tweet at Hattie: @hejames1008 and find her on Linkedin at:

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