Employee benefits are a great way to attract and retain top talent, but as an increasing number of companies providing the expanding list of “basic” benefits, some employers are finding it more difficult to keep up with a competitive offering. In recent years, more and more companies are adding volunteer time off to their leave policies to give their employees (and communities) a little more.
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What is Volunteer Time Off?
Volunteer time off (VTO) is employer-sponsored time off enabling employees to contribute their time to causes that are important to them in their communities or in society. While many employers already offer paid time off (PTO) to their employees, VTO is becoming increasingly common as an alternative option to give employees some time away. According to the 2019 Employee Benefits Survey administered by SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, 26% of organizations offer VTO to their employees, an increase of 5% over the previous 5 years.
So why should you consider adding VTO to your leave company’s policy?
One of the benefits of offering your employees VTO is that it allows for you to give back to the community through your employees.
Give Back by Allowing Employees to Give Back
One of the benefits of offering your employees VTO is that it allows for you to give back to the community through your employees. Even if the current economy, or your company’s financial situation, doesn’t allow you to give back through monetary means, your employees’ contribution of time to various organizations is an extension of your company’s contribution. Another benefit of adding a volunteer policy is that you can make it as broad or specific as you want. You can have an open policy allowing your employees to decide to contribute to the organizations and causes that are most important to them, or you can specify which organizations they can volunteer for to count towards the VTO, focusing on those that your company prefers to support. You can also choose to take your company contribution a step further. The Thomas Reuters policy includes a monetary donation matching component on employee hours.
Show That You Care
The integration of a VTO policy into your employee perks also helps to demonstrate your company’s level of social consciousness, which has proven increasingly important to employees, especially millennials. In 2016, millennials pushed out Gen Xers to become the largest generation in the US workforce, making up approximately 1/3 of Americans in the workforce by 2019. According to a millennial employee engagement study, the majority of employees (76%) take a company’s social and environmental commitments into account when considering where to work. Furthermore, 64% of employees noted that they would refuse a job if the company didn’t demonstrate strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices. Other statistics show increased fulfillment, company commitment and loyalty, and overall employee engagement resulting from working at companies with CSR involvement. By adding a VTO component to your company’s leave policy, you are taking an important step toward demonstrating CSR, which will help you attract and retain talent with strong values. Additionally, a strong expression of CSR will undoubtedly be a positive influence on your brand representation.
Providing this time for your employees also shows that you care about what they care about.
Providing this time for your employees also shows that you care about what they care about. Providing them with the time to support the causes that matter to them will increase their appreciation for you as an employer. Looking at recent events and unrest surrounding racial discrimination, the need for all of us to step up as individuals within society and do our part to accomplish change has been highlighted. As an employer, providing employees with the opportunity to do this delivers a marked impact.
Support Employee Mental Health
As with PTO, VTO is an alternative to help avoid employee burnout in your company, providing an opportunity for your employees to step away from their daily duties for a change in pace. It serves as an additional way to enhance your company’s leave policy, offering an additional outlet through which your employees can recharge with more meaning.
Not only does VTO help stave off burnout, but volunteering has the added benefit of a positive impact on your employees’ mental health and happiness levels. According to a study on volunteerism done by United Health Care in 2017, 79% of participants reported lower stress levels after volunteering, while 93% of participants reported an improvement in their moods.
Invest in Your Employees’ Skill Sets
Adding this time for your employees to give back is also an investment in your workforce. It provides time to work on skills that could improve their in-office performance by improving character traits like accountability and commitment. According to the 2020 Accenture survey about employer-supported volunteering, 76% of respondents said they developed core work skills through volunteering opportunities. By offering VTO, you are giving your workforce the opportunity to engage in activities that will help further develop their existing skill levels.
Adding this time for your employees to give back is also an investment in your workforce.
For those of you readers that are Justworks customers, if you choose to create a policy for volunteering time off, this can be conveniently managed within the platform along with the rest of your leave policy, with employees being able to easily request days off, as well as see their balance.
Whether you’re looking to attract quality talent, retain the great employees that you already have, or invest in the employability and happiness of your workforce, volunteer time off can be a valuable addition to your company’s benefit package.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.