If you’re serious about stepping up your commitment to doing good, you’ve got to get your ducks in a row. Things can get complicated quickly when you’re dealing with so many stakeholders all at once. You need to be clear about how you want to work with external partners, such as charities, social enterprises, community groups, schools, brokers, and CSR consultants. You also need to make sure you’re satisfying senior managers and investors in your company who will be very focused on return on investment. In all the confusion, it’s easy to forget arguably the most important group of stakeholders – your employees. Without their involvement and engagement, external stakeholders will get much less impact from your support, and your company will miss out on all the benefits of involving your employees in your responsible activities – increased productivity, better retention, cost effective L&D, etc. However, before you can get them involved and excited, you need to make sure everyone is clear about the details by putting together an official policy. This will make your job easier but also cover your back in case of any issues.
Here are our top tips on what to include:
1. Why employee volunteering?
Make it clear why you’re encouraging employee volunteering, and explain the decisions you’ve made while putting the programme together. This will make employees feel involved and hopefully allow them to buy in to your vision.
2. What is employee volunteering?
Provide a clear definition of what you mean by employee volunteering to make sure everyone’s on the same page!
3. Who can employees volunteer with?
Will you allow employees to volunteer with any organisation they choose or will you put restrictions on it? Do the organisations they choose need to fit in with your over-arching objectives around cause or location? Do they need to be UK registered charities? Can the charities have a religious or political aim?
4. What type of volunteering can they do?
Does it include fundraising? Is it only volunteering done during working hours? Should employees volunteer in groups? Is skilled volunteering particularly encouraged?
5. How long can they volunteer for?
How many hours per year can employees spend volunteering during working hours? Do they need to be taken as whole or half days, or can they be split up into individual hours?
6. What about volunteering in their own time?
Should they still log those hours? Would TOIL be considered for volunteering outside of working hours? If so, would that only be for certain types of volunteering?
7. When can they volunteer?
Do they need to have been in post for a certain amount of time? Are there any restrictions on certain times of the year / month / day? Does this vary from team to team? Can more than one member of a team be out at the same time?
8. How can it help career development?
Will volunteering be linked to performance appraisals or L&D goals? Could future leaders be matched with trustee opportunities to help them gain experience?
9. How do employees identify and find volunteering opportunities? Do you use internal or external tools?
Do you use any tools to help them find opportunities? Do you have company-led initiatives for them to get involved with? If so, how can they find out about those?
10. What is the authorisation process?
Will there be a formal process or can employees just ask their line manager on an ad hoc basis?
11. Will you provide additional support to their chosen organisations?
Would you match any donations they make or funds they raise? Are there any grants they can apply for? Are there any formal channels for them to suggest their chosen organisation to other colleagues who may want to volunteer with them?
12. How will expenses work?
Will you reimburse them? If a DBS check is required, will you cover the cost?
13. What about insurance?
Do you have insurance that will cover them or do they need to provide their own? Do the organisations they choose to volunteer with need to have public liability insurance? If so, whose responsibility is it to check if that is in place?
14. What is the feedback process?
Where will they record hours? Where and when will they provide feedback? Will it be anonymous?
There are certainly other things you may need to consider for your particular organisational needs, but we think that covering all of these points would be a great start! Once you have these details in place, you can relax and start focusing on the more exciting stuff – engaging your employees, building new partnerships, and enjoying all the impact you’re having!
If you have any questions or would like to discuss how we could help with your employee volunteering programme, then please do not hesitate to be in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org