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A Handy Guide To Volunteer Time Off

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Table Of Contents

How would you describe the union of corporate social responsibility and fostering a good company culture within a competitive labor market? The answer is simple: volunteer time off (VTO). 

As more and more companies steer away from creating a “basic” employee benefits package, the popularity of volunteer time off is growing along with it. But what exactly does this type of time off mean anyway? We’re here to break it all down for you!

What is Volunteer Time Off?

The heart and soul of every organization — including yours — is made up of its employees. Volunteer time off is a creative way to come together as a group, build relationships on an individual level, and give back to the community. All while still getting paid. That’s why volunteer time is undoubtedly one of the hottest trends in the employee perks market today. 

Volunteer time off (also known as VTO) is a growing employee benefit gaining popularity across the globe. While it may sound obvious, VTO allows employees to take paid time off during their normal work schedule in order to volunteer.  

It’s a way for employees to give back to their community. It’s also great for the company because it builds employee engagement, improves morale, and increases overall productivity. VTO is often built into your employee benefits plan just like PTO, bereavement leave, sick days and other types of leaves are. This allows your employees to spend their time volunteering, without having to give up on their income.

Why would a company want to offer Volunteer Time Off?

There are plenty of benefits of offering volunteer time off to your employees. Here are a few of them:

You can give back to the community

Volunteering is a great way to give back and help those who are less fortunate. Your company can set up projects that volunteers can take part in, whether it’s helping out at a local food bank or organizing a fundraiser for an organization that works to protect wildlife. We all need a little help sometimes. Hence, opportunities to volunteer in your community will be far from endless!

Enhances your company culture

Offering volunteer time off shows your employees that you care about them on both a personal and professional level.

Employees are likely to be more loyal, work harder, and remain with your business longer when they feel like their employers have their best interests at heart. In addition to that, your employees will also be grateful to work at a company that shows and fulfills its corporate social responsibility. So not only will you get a more engaged workforce, but you’ll also be able to create a strong company culture that revolves around employee involvement and satisfaction. What’s not to love about that?

It’s good for your employees’ work/life balance

Research shows that volunteering regularly can lower the risk of high blood pressure in adults by up to 40% and can even help them live longer

Other health benefits that come from volunteering include stress reduction, increased physical activity, improved social connections, and reduced depression — all of which make life better not only in the workplace but also at home. It promotes overall employee well-being, while also improving their mental and physical health.  

Furthermore, giving employees the option to volunteer with their families also serves as an amazing bonding activity for all!

Helps employees learn new skills & perform better

HR teams everywhere, rejoice!

Studies have shown that employees who are given time off to volunteer perform better than those who don’t take time off for volunteering. In fact, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that people who volunteer perform at least as well in their jobs as those who don’t volunteer. So why wouldn’t you want to offer this kind of benefit to your company? Talk about a win-win situation for all parties involved!

Employees who volunteer also tend to be more engaged with their jobs and less likely to leave their jobs than those who do not volunteer. By offering paid time off for volunteering, you are encouraging your employees to feel invested in your company’s success by giving them a chance to give back while also increasing their satisfaction with their current position and creating loyalty toward you as an employer.

Aids in attracting top talent

Introducing VTO at your company is a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

On one hand, including this type of time off in your leave policy can help you fulfill your corporate social responsibility. And on the flip side, your company will also attract talented and more highly qualified candidates. By offering VTO, organizations can attract employees who are community-minded and values-driven, at little to no cost. It’s the best way to give your employees and your communities a little more.

Which companies have followed suit?

Companies are always on the lookout for ways to improve their corporate culture and create a more engaged workforce. This is especially true when it comes to younger generations of workers who want an environment that fosters growth, creativity, and collaboration. Having a volunteer time off policy in place definitely checks all those boxes. Not convinced? Just ask Google.

Ever since Google rolled out its VTO policy, other companies such as Dell, Microsoft, and ExxonMobil have also followed suit, to name just a few.

As such, it’s also important to measure the impact of volunteering on your team. You can do this by asking volunteers how they feel about their experience and soliciting feedback from them after volunteering. This will help you determine what can be improved in the future, as well as whether or not there are any lessons that apply to other aspects of your organization.

What opportunities can I partake in?

A good place to begin is with something you care about. 

Love music? Look for a local band that needs help setting up equipment. Think your passion lies in traveling and exploring new countries? Then look for an organization that organizes trips abroad (like Global Brigades or Peace Corps). If cooking fresh food is how you unwind from a busy day, consider volunteering at a soup kitchen or community garden. Lastly, if you love playing with animals, consider working at an animal shelter or your closest vet. 

The key is to find whatever it is that makes your heart sing—and feel good about yourself. Anything can be the perfect opportunity for volunteer work, as long as you support the cause behind it.

After finding an organization that resonates with your interests, think about how much time and effort will be required on both sides of the relationship. This type of work isn’t necessarily equated with money, but rather helping someone else achieve their goals in any way possible. growth within yourself when working together towards shared objectives.

How do I start?

Perhaps the best part about VTO is that you can design it to suit your company’s needs. AKA, it can be as broad and detailed as you’d like.

The baseline for all volunteer time off policies goes as follows: employees will receive their regular compensation for hours spent in service to an approved charitable or community organization. Most companies usually allocate anywhere from 1 to 3 days of paid time off for volunteering in a year. However, that number is completely up to you to decide.

Some companies even offer paid sabbaticals to help employees devote themselves to volunteering. Organizations offering VTO can decide how much time they will allow, and even dictate which organizations employees should volunteer for to qualify. It’s important to direct your time, energy, and effort toward a cause that matters to your company and the people within it. You can base it on other factors such as employee adoption, other employee perks, standard PTO policies, and so on.

These policies can help attract employees to an organization by giving them the latitude to make a difference outside the organization. It’s also a great way to support non-profits and communities in other ways than just financially through monetary donations. 

Wrapping up

In the end, companies that are offering volunteer time off are doing so because they believe it helps them drive greater value to their business. Don’t just take our word for it, look around you! These programs aren’t just a fad; they’re here to stay. You can use these programs as part of an overall strategy to attract top talent. Or, it can help keep your employees engaged with their work throughout their careers at your company. No matter what you do, one thing is clear. Introducing a Volunteer Time Off policy is sure to make a good difference in your company!

Snigdha Gupta
Snigdha Gupta

An avid writer and aspiring marketer, Snigdha is a student at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business.

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