A company’s citizenship (CSR) program depends on the unwavering commitment and coordinated efforts of its employees. But without the entire team on board, how can meaningful and sustainable progress be made? What practices and practical steps can foster employee engagement in the journey towards real corporate citizenship?
Let’s assume you have determined the governing objective of your employee volunteering and giving program. Let’s also assume that you’ve arrived at a basic program design and have a clear idea of the problem (or result) on which to focus the efforts of the employee volunteering program. Now it’s time to ensure that the model will actually work in the real world. There are Four Conditions necessary to any successful volunteering program: Motivation, Space, Movement and Structure.
Obviously these programs need to be organized. This means understandable strategies, clear communication, a stated mission, vision and values, good metrics, clear policies, etc. This is the basic stuff that enables people to function together and gain that sense of movement. We recommend the use of Logic Models to when considering the right structure for the goals you want to achieve.
- Need help determining the governing objective of your employee volunteering and giving program? Click here
- Need help with determining the focus of your employee volunteering and giving program? Click here
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Employee volunteer programs must provide the right kind of space for employees to gradually find their own reasons for volunteering. Volunteers should not be asked to immediately make a long commitment, they should not be bombarded with reasons why they should volunteer, and they should not be penalized for a perceived lack of interest. At Realized Worth, we call this approach meeting people at their highest level of contribution. When employees are met at their highest level of contribution they will eventually own the experience for themselves. If they continue on the journey of the volunteer, they will become unstoppable advocates for the companyʼs employee volunteer program.
Meeting people at their highest level of contribution requires designing the kind of space that can accommodate all types of volunteers. Generally speaking, volunteers will fall into one of three stages. We call these stages the Journey of the Volunteer: Tourist, Traveler and Guide.
The first stage on the journey of the volunteer is one of investigation and curiosity. Like a tourist visiting a new place for the first time, a first stage volunteer is not yet sure if this experience is the right fit for them. They cannot be forced or coerced into liking it; instead, they must be given basic, experiential tasks that will allow them to look, taste, see and discover. If theyʼre ready, theyʼll return to the space and continue through the stages. Tourists will make up about 70-80% of any group of employee volunteers.
The second stage is one of meaningful discovery. Like a traveler who has begun to feel a sense of belonging to the place theyʼve visited, second stage volunteers will begin to internalize their motivation for returning. As they own the experience for themselves, they will become ready to take on leadership responsibility and tasks that require increased commitment. Travelers can be hard to recognize, but theyʼre worth looking for. Travelers will make up about 15-20% of employee volunteers. Theyʼre on their way to becoming advocates and leaders for the volunteer program.
The third stage in the journey of the volunteer is one of alignment and internalization. Like a guide who introduces friends and strangers alike to the charms of his favorite country, third stage volunteers are motivated entirely by personal, intrinsic reasons. Guides can be trusted to run the program when no other leader is around and will recruit new volunteers without being asked. Guides make up only about 10% of any group of employee volunteers and should receive the greatest percentage of time and energy from their managers.
While motivation and space are essential to the success of an employee volunteer program, one of the single greatest causes of low participation rates is the lack of a sense of movement. Coming back to the same situation again and again without seeing distinct progress is disheartening and emotionally exhausting for volunteers. CSR managers who are unsure whether or not volunteers have a sense of accomplishment – a sense of making a difference – are missing a key metric that informs the programʼs sustainability.
- Want Good Volunteers? Forget The Altruistic, Find The Self-Interested (Part 1 of 2)
- Want Good Volunteers? Dump The Altruistic, Find The Self-Interested (Part 2 of 2)
The Future of Employee Volunteering
A steadily increasing number of companies are beginning to see the vast potential of employee volunteer programs. Unfortunately, many find the tasks of proving the business case, establishing a strategy, and implementing a program altogether too daunting to realize those benefits. As the CSR landscape grows, research and new methods are proving that establishing a successful employee volunteer program may not be so difficult after all. For any company that chooses to invest a little time in self-education and a little energy into a structured meeting with colleagues, a world-class employee volunteer program is set to be their next, great success.
The Realized Worth Global Team has the skill and experience you need to help you create an outstanding employee volunteering and workplace giving program. We will work with you to engage employees in your corporate citizenship program. Give us a call if you’d like to talk further – 855.926.4678. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.