Many charities and companies are tapping into a new trend – encouraging employees to get involved in their communities by taking small actions. Volunteering and community outreach continue to evolve, and recruiting more volunteers means understanding what types of commitments people can make with their time, interests, and skills. Micro-volunteering is an example of an innovative approach to the volunteer landscape – enabling and inspiring employees to give back without having to dedicate hours of their time.
Micro-volunteering can involve anything from organizing a registration list to helping a neighbour unload their groceries, or simply bringing more awareness to a charity through a tweet. The payoff for companies is that their employees will feel good about contributing to a larger project while maintaining their work-life balance and managing their flexibility.
It is evident that employees who volunteer truly feel like they are making a difference in their communities. A study done at Harvard shows that people who volunteer at least two hours per week had higher levels of optimism, happiness, and purpose in life. One of the most important elements in engaging your employees authentically is creating a culture that supports volunteering and giving back. Providing micro-volunteer opportunities shows that charities and companies are not necessarily looking for long-term commitments and can also help bridge the divide where employees feel they do not have the time to commit to a large responsibility. If micro-volunteering helps meet employees halfway, we might be able to see an uptake in engagement – and in turn, a happier and optimistic employee.
How do you introduce micro-volunteering to your employees?
Include micro-volunteering as part of your onboarding and training sessions.
When new hires are starting their roles, time spent educating them on your companies’ mission, values, and business can take up a lot of onboarding time. Encourage employees to set up their profile on their community platform and search for ‘small acts of kindness’ opportunities they would want to take part in. Leveraging your existing relationships with charities will help you find out how you can split up one larger commitment into bite-sized chunks. This way, you make the best use of your people’s time while giving them a sense of giving back in their communities.
Align employee skills with opportunities that become available.
Skilled-based volunteering empowers employees to take their role one step further by leveraging their skills in charitable initiatives. When launching a new training or development course within your organization, think about adding in a micro-volunteer opportunity that aligns with their acquired skills. If a charity is looking for a unique skill that your employee excels at, pairing up the opportunity helps motivate a busy employee to take on the project, especially if the charity is asking for minimum commitment – It’s a win-win!
Always track and encourage storytelling.
It can be difficult sometimes to see the greater effect that micro-volunteering has in its communities, which is why it’s important to track and encourage storytelling, employee recognition, and rewarding these small but impactful volunteer opportunities. Introduce micro-volunteering within your employee resource groups and think of unique ways to incentivize champions who engage other employees through micro-volunteering opportunities (such as cause cards). This is yet another window into a larger investment of volunteerism, and by acknowledging the skills and enthusiasm that people have for flexible opportunities, you inspire them to engage in future projects which further develop community involvement.
By taking innovative approaches to volunteer, small acts of kindness are continuously inspired, and better habits are created by your employees. This year, we have already seen the influx of community support through COVID-19, the social justice movements, and diversity, equality, and inclusion. It is important for companies to continue this journey of employee engagement by giving back. When employees show up to work, whether remote or at the office, they want to feel recognized and appreciated for what value they bring to the organization. Introducing them to micro-volunteering might just empower them to take it a step further – on their own – knowing they have their companies’ support.
Written by Michelle Turchanikova and originally posted on the YourCause blog