Considering an Employee Volunteer Program?
As National Volunteer Month comes to a close, we want to share tips for how having a volunteer program available to your employees could benefit your business. Employee volunteer programs can be an excellent way for companies to give back to the community while also providing a valuable team-building experience for employees. A volunteer program is only one element of a larger corporate social responsibility program. What a company does in the community can serve as a competitive advantage in the marketplace. When managed well, employee volunteering programs can help companies:
- Recruit and retain top talent
- Improve employee satisfaction, morale, and health
- Promote workplace engagement
- Enhance brand value
- Build stronger community relationships
- Make a lasting impact on those in need
Recently, we sat down with Colleen Temple, Coastal’s Community Engagement Manager, to ask her questions about Coastal’s employee volunteer program and the lessons she’s learned managing the program.
Q: What is the Coastal volunteer program?
A: Coastal’s culture has always encouraged employees to serve our communities to pursue positive change and volunteer where they have a passion. We have never mandated that employees volunteer or volunteer with particular organizations or support specific focus areas. However, we have attracted employees who are connected to our communities and involved through volunteering because of our culture.
While most volunteer commitments occur after business hours, some may require time off during the workday. Coastal recently launched its Volunteer Time Off Policy to formalize the process to accommodate these situations. We’re excited to offer full-time staff 16 paid hours per year and part-time staff eight paid hours per year to use volunteering. Being a community bank, we want to be a contributing member of the communities in which we are located, as well as support our out-of-area employees who are active in their local communities.
Q: What advice would you give to businesses looking to implement a similar volunteer program?
A: One of the most important things you can do when starting a new employee volunteer program is to do your research and ask questions. What are other companies doing in your industry? Do you have the staff to provide program support? Do you have the technology to support the program? Do you have an executive champion that can help garner support? Understanding that everyone is on a different impact journey is also key. What resonates for one employee may not resonate for another, so being flexible and adjusting as you go is essential. By taking the time to do your research upfront, you’ll be better positioned to create a successful program.
Q: What resources did you use to create the Coastal volunteer program?
A: When developing our employee volunteer program, we gathered research and best practices from many sources to have a well-rounded outlook for our program. This included several reports from the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and organizations such as GlobalGiving, Points of Light, and others. In addition, we reviewed what other financial service organizations are offering and spoke with contacts at the Workplace Community Engagement Network. By taking all of this information into account, we created a program that we think will be truly impactful for both our employees and the communities they serve.
Q: Does the Bank provide employees other opportunities to support their communities?
A: In 2001 employees joined together to create the Employee Giving Fund to support charitable causes in our communities. Since its inception, the fund has awarded 436 grants totaling more than $669,001 and is supported entirely by donations contributed by employees. While this is not a part of our volunteer program, it shows how Coastal’s culture is centered around supporting our communities and is something to consider while building your volunteer or social responsibility program.
Q: Looking back, what was a learning moment you’d like to share?
A: A big learning moment relates to corporate volunteering events. Typically, many community nonprofits have small staff teams. When we reach out to them saying we would like to do a corporate volunteering event on a specific date, it takes a lot of work on their end to pull this together. They need to develop a project and have staff to support it. Moving forward, we will have more of a community-centered volunteering focus. We want to build relationships with the nonprofits in our communities, let them know we are available, and contact us when they have a need. We can then pull together a team to support them.
We hope this look at the benefits of employee volunteer programs and how Coastal is working to make a difference in our local communities inspires you to create your own.
If you are a nonprofit in our Coastal branch communities and in need of volunteers, please send your request to email@example.com. We would be happy to help!