FAQ: The biggest challenges of employee volunteer programs

Employee volunteer programs (EVPs) can offer significant triple-win positive impacts for the organization they wish to serve, the corporation, and the volunteers themselves. According to a study by Deloitte, employee volunteer programs create a positive culture within a corporation by boosting morale, improving workplace atmosphere, and enhancing their brand perception. A thoughtfully devised and executed EVP can be a winning tool for creating a more cohesive working environment while simultaneously producing positive societal impacts.

Despite the potential benefits, EVPs are not without their inherent challenges. It can be arduous to know how to start an EVP or how to increase participation in an existing program. However, by identifying these challenges, you can better prepare a strategy to handle issues that may arise and learn from others along the way. Below we outline a few of the biggest challenges of employee volunteer programs and what you can do to tackle them.

Challenge: How to choose a partner with an EVP

While employee volunteer programs have the capacity to produce positive impacts, it can be difficult to know which partner is best to collaborate with to create significant mutual benefits.

Solution: Consider your reasons and goals for having an EVP

All too often the deliverables are the focus rather that the goals for everyone involved. First, take a step back and consider the goals you wish to achieve with your employee volunteer program. Even if a corporation has an existing EVP, it can be beneficial to reevaluate the goals as time progresses.

Be upfront about your reasons for taking part as having an ulterior motive, which may not be entirely altruistic, should not be seen as a problem by anyone involved. Sustainability and prioritization are more assured If these goals are worked into the program from the get-go. From this point, you are then better prepared to partner with a volunteer organization that can find an appropriate charity match, such as:

Challenge: How to expand participation in an EVP

There is an urgent need to create significant value for corporates, their employees, and the communities they intend to serve.

Solution: Devise an employee-driven program.
Keep in mind that the most expensive asset that companies have is their human capital so it is best used wisely. Volunteering is about real people driving change by trading ideas and collaborating for mutually beneficial results. By allowing employees to select a nonprofit within their own communities, the pro bono engagement developed will likely be more thoughtful, engaging and ultimately sustainable. However, for an EVP to become successfully integrated into the corporate culture requires management’s essential internal support.

Challenge: Implementation of an EVP during the current pandemic

The collaborative benefits of an EVP can be hindered as many workplaces are continuing to recommend that their employees work from home or limit face-to-face engagements.

Solution: Virtual engagement is necessary for the here and now.

Renay Loper, VP of Project Innovation from Pyxera Global offers creative and innovative solutions to the current working environment which can be used as frameworks for long-term solutions should life ‘get back to normal.’ A hybrid approach, in which a project blends into an in-person model once travel is safe and possible, can still be the ultimate, long-term goal.

The onset of video conferencing opens up possibilities for virtual coaching and mentorship to other organizations by providing a diverse skill. The benefits of collaborative learning from other leaders during crises can be immense, not least of which to understand that one is not alone during this unique and unprecedented time.

Pyxera Global has further developed ‘impact challenges’ which invites the best and brightest thinkers to work together to offer bold solutions which have aspects of:

  • Innovation;
  • Social impact;
  • Visibility;
  • Sustainability;
  • Desirability; and
  • Feasibility.

This series of exciting challenges will virtually engage corporate employees to create bold solutions to address the limitations in various systems surfaced by COVID-19. Teams of employees across companies will ‘compete’ to provide the most innovative solutions to challenges facing organizations on the front lines today and throughout recovery, hopefully creating a ripple effect through society.

Challenge: How to measure the impact

Getting buy-in from senior executives generally comes down to the figures and showing how an EVP is providing positive impacts for not only the community but also employees and the corporation.

Solution: Consider measured impacts when setting your goals

Circling back to the initial need to consider an EVP’s goals, the measurable impacts for everyone involved should ideally be devised concurrently. These may be tangible aspects with regards to employee retention or recruitment or intangible aspects such as corporate culture or engagement. Regardless, ensuring the routine measurement of impacts will enable a program to be better fine-tuned and prioritized.

Employee volunteer programs can bring additional challenges to a corporation; however, the overall benefits and positive impacts should remain the beacon of light towards which to strive. Employee volunteer programs can produce triple wins for the employee, the company, and the communities they aim to serve. The corporation can elevate its workforce by engaging with communities in new and unique ways to produce insights into critical markets and innovation opportunities. Employees can be enriched with unmatched experiential leadership and talent development opportunities with a social mission. And last but not least, communities can benefit from positive impacts associated with the transfer of knowledge and expertise to social mission-driven organizations.