Why Volunteer Time Off Is a Valuable Benefit for Everyone

Published February 17, 2022
Friendly volunteer greets woman during charity event

Volunteer time off is an increasingly popular employee perk that provides employees with paid time off from work to engage in volunteerism. This unique employee benefit is truly valuable for everyone affected. Paid volunteering not only has a positive impact on the companies that offer it and the employees who participate, but also on the nonprofit organizations that receive assistance and the community as a whole.

Positive Outcomes of VTO Programs

With so many positive outcomes associated with paid volunteer time off (VTO) programs, it's not surprising that more and more businesses are incorporating this unique perk into their cultures. Google, Culture Amp, and Justworks are among the many forward-thinking businesses that include paid volunteering in their employee benefits packages.

Attract Top Talent

People want to work for companies that care about them as human beings, not just as human capital. When a company encourages employees to allocate a portion of their work time to contribute to a cause that they're passionate about, they're letting employees know that the company values them for more than just their contributions to the bottom line. When a top recruit sees that your company has a VTO program, your organization just might go to the top of their list of places they want to work.

Retain Employees

VTO does more than just inspire prospective employees to want to work for your company. This benefit can also help your company retain good employees. Providing VTO and other whole-person benefits contributes greatly to creating an environment where people truly feel valued. People who know they are valued are more likely to stay, especially when they're provided with a benefit that empowers them to contribute positively to a cause that matters during work hours.

Increased Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is an important issue in the modern workplace. When a company offers VTO, employees don't have to confine all of their charitable contributions to their limited time outside of work hours. As a result, employees are able to do their part to build a stronger community without having to sacrifice as much of their personal time. Chances are that most people will also volunteer some of their off-work time as well, but they can make a difference without having to do so.

Develop Employee Skills

The financial resources that a company commits to paying employees to volunteer can reap powerful rewards in terms of employee development. When people do volunteer work outside of their regular jobs, they will be able to acquire new skills and strengthen the skills they already have. For example, high potential employees who chair committees with charitable organizations will develop real-world leadership skills far beyond what they could learn from attending a seminar.

Build Stronger Teams

One of the best ways to build a stronger team is to provide opportunities for employees to engage in constructive shared experiences outside of the workplace. That's exactly what will happen when groups of employees decide to join forces to help out a local charitable organization that they're all passionate about. This will create a unique bonding experience for team members who have shared interests that can't be fostered through ordinary team-building activities.

Volunteers working on construction site

Reinforce Company Values

Too many organizations have grandiose value statements that they don't back up in any substantive way. It's all well and good for a company to voice commitment to the community, but if they don't follow through in a visible way, that's not how they're viewed. When an organization backs up its commitment to the community with real dollars, such as paying employees to do volunteer work, they're reinforcing company values to employees and other important stakeholder groups.

Cultivate Community Relations

Organizations that are viewed as good stewards of the communities in which they operate are the ones most likely to thrive and grow. What better way to demonstrate that your organization cares about the community than to actively support, encourage, and fund employees to get involved in charitable causes? When your employees become more actively involved with helping nonprofit organizations, that's likely to elevate your organization's profile in the community in a positive way.

Boost Your Brand Image

When your company has a highly visible presence in the community that's linked to positive contributions from many of its employees, that will help strengthen your organization's brand. Companies with a VTO program that employees actively participate in are likely to be viewed as having high levels of corporate social responsibility. This type of program can even lead to your organization being viewed as a supplier of choice and an employer of choice.

Sample Paid Volunteer Time Off Policies

Are you sold on the benefits of VTO? Once upper management has approved offering this perk, you'll need to finalize your company's policy and communicate it to your employees. Stick with an amount the company can support for the long-term. It's better to start small with a paid volunteer program that the company can sustain rather than start big and have to reduce or suspend the program once it has started.

  • Monthly allocation - After 90 days of continuous full-time employment, employees will be allocated two hours of paid Volunteer Time Off [VTO] per month, on the first of each month. This allocation must be used within the month it was awarded to volunteer with a local 501(c)(3) organization, contingent upon supervisory approval. Hours do not roll over to the following month and cannot be used for any other purpose. Use the code VTO when reporting these hours on your timesheet.
  • Annual allocation - To encourage employee involvement with community organizations, [insert company name] will approve up to 24 hours per calendar year of paid Volunteer Time Off (VTO) to full-time employees. Employees may use this time to volunteer with the 501(c)(3) organization of their choice. Employees must secure written approval from their supervisor in advance prior to using VTO. Hours will be tracked via the payroll system using the code VTO.

Unless you're about to publish a new employee handbook immediately, distribute the policy as a standalone document, then add it to the next version of your handbook. Post the policy via the intranet so employees will be able to review it on demand.

Secure Competitive Advantage With Paid Volunteering

Company leaders are always looking for a way to gain a competitive advantage. Adding a paid volunteering program to your employee benefits is a powerful way to help you do just that. Not only will you elevate your company's profile among top candidates, but you'll also raise the organization's profile as a business with a real commitment to doing good in the community and being a solid corporate citizen. With paid volunteerism programs, everybody wins.

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