Top Ten Tips for... Encouraging Volunteering in the Workplace
The first week of June is Volunteers' Week and it is a great chance to celebrate and say thank you for the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK to businesses, organisations and charities.
By creating a culture that encourages volunteering, you can help boost employee morale and workplace atmosphere as well as engaging a more diverse range of skills and experience. If recent events have inspired you to develop volunteering opportunities within your workplace, then read on for our Top Ten Tips...
1. Thinking of hiring volunteers? Start with a proper role description
Developing a volunteering role within your organisation should be no different to creating a paid position. You need to think carefully about what key tasks you want the volunteer to undertake and how often. The role needs to be a good balance between what you need to achieve as an organisation or company and what will be fulfilling and interesting for the volunteer.
2. Engage with colleagues about volunteering opportunities
If you are unsure about what volunteering roles you could offer, then your employees are the best place to start. They may have plenty of ideas about how volunteers can help to make a difference in their working environment and can help you develop the role description and specification. If they have had an active part in developing the role, your employees are more likely to be enthusiastic about welcoming a volunteer into their work space and to mentor them going forward.
3. Re-evaluate your recruitment process
Do your current recruitment policies also facilitate the on-boarding of volunteers? This doesn’t necessarily need to be as robust as for a paid employee but you do need to have a basic framework in place. This should include inspiring advertisements of the roles you have to offer, an interview process, a budget for DBS checks if necessary and a welcoming and informative induction process.
4. Organise a welcoming, informative induction
Just like any new job, taking on a volunteering role can be daunting. Ensuring you have a comprehensive, informative and welcoming induction process in place is essential and will go a long way to helping new volunteers feel well-equipped and ready to start on this journey. You can also include your current paid employees in this process as it would be a great opportunity for them to give back and get involved with volunteering.
5. Encourage existing employees to volunteer elsewhere
In the modern world of work, money and perks aren’t necessarily enough to motivate and compensate your team. Younger workers in particular, such as Millennials and Generation Z, are more likely to be on the lookout for a company that prioritises corporate social responsibility. Can your business provide flexibility or paid time off for volunteering opportunities? Your employees will feel empowered and grateful that their workplace is helping them give back to the world.
6. Showcase the impact your volunteers have
‘Wanting to do good’ is the most common motivation to volunteer and as well as helping others, volunteering has been shown to improve volunteers’ wellbeing too. The best way to recruit and retain your volunteers, as well as encouraging employees to make the most of volunteering opportunities, is to show the positive impact they continue to have. Getting involved in national celebrations such as Volunteers’ Week is just one way you could do this.
7. Celebrate and reward your volunteers
In 2020/21, 16.3m people volunteered through a group, club or organisation and almost 1 in 5 people (17%) did so at least once a month. So volunteers really do help make the world go round! Making sure your volunteers are appreciated is incredibly important. You could do this in so many ways from sending them birthday and Christmas cards, hosting an awards ceremony, marking their volunteering anniversary and including them in any positive news stories about your organisation.
8. Keep checking in
Just like regular employees - you need to invest time, effort and compassion into nurturing your volunteers. Regular one-to-ones are a useful way to do this. Remember, that people volunteer for many different reasons so it’s important to check that the role is still suitable for them and fits in with their home-life, other paid work and caring responsibilities.
9. Volunteering and development
People volunteer for many reasons. They may want to develop their skills and confidence, to make friends, to boost their employability, to give something back to a charity or organisation which means something to them or to keep active once they have retired. Some people may want to carry out the same regular duties but others may want to develop further or have more variety in what they do. Offering diverse volunteering opportunities will make the experience more rewarding and fulfilling.
10. Kick start a permanent corporate volunteering programme
Volunteers’ Week is a great time to think about your volunteering opportunities but it doesn’t need to just take place one week out of the year. Why not start a permanent corporate volunteering programme? Whether you regularly take on new volunteers within your workplace or source fulfilling opportunities for paid employees elsewhere, an effective volunteering programme will help to attract, engage, motivate and retain a happy, fulfilled workforce.
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