Why Your Employees Aren’t Using Their Allotted Volunteer Hours

Jan 20, 2017 12:55 PM ET

Why Your Employees Aren’t Using Their Allotted Volunteer Hours

By Caleb Dow, Porpoise

At Porpoise, we often hear HR Managers tell us that they aren’t seeing high enough participation rates within their volunteer initiatives. Based on the trends we’ve seen, we know a few reasons why their programs might not be working – and how to fix them.

  1. Low Awareness

Levels of participation in any program are naturally going to be low if the level of awareness of the program is equally low. Advertise and raise awareness about the program. Also, some team members may feel that they don’t actually have permission to use these volunteer days, because no one else is using them. Top-down permission coming from a c-level executive can go a long way in boosting participation.

  1. Not Understanding the Importance

Stress to your people why you have a volunteering program in place. What do employees get out of it, and how does it benefit the organization? Explain to your employees that it is an opportunity for them to support a cause that they are passionate about while building and improving their skillset. People are much more likely to do something if they understand why. If they feel there is a mutual understanding of the value they are creating for the organization, they will be more likely to participate in the program.

  1. Outside Constraints

Employees are under pressure to meet deadlines and targets and may feel that they will fall behind or miss opportunities if they volunteer on company time. For this reason, employees may wish to volunteer on their own time. This is equally as valuable to the organization and should be recognized. You can also provide support to your employees by reducing their workloads, allowing flextime, and setting attainable goals. Employees who receive this kind of support report 35 more hours of volunteer time than those who do not. In 2013 there were 8,382,000 volunteers who were employed part or full time. 4,610,100 (55%) of these volunteers received some form of employee support.

  1. Lack of Recognition

For some employees, participation is low because they feel they won’t be recognized for their volunteer efforts. Recognition and positive feedback leads to increased engagement and participation. For every employee that participates in your corporate volunteering program, greater than $2400 of value is generated for the organization.