With the increased exposure and scrutiny brought about amongst the internet, it is becoming more and more important for businesses to fulfil their social contract and implement Corporate Social Responsibility arms to their existing structure. Employee volunteering is just one way in which businesses can give back to their community in which they serve.
Volunteering in Australia Today
According to figures1 gathered by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 36.2% of people over the age of 18 participated in formal volunteering in 2010. Formal volunteering includes help given as time, service of skills to an organisation or a group. Whereas 20% of people aged 18 and above care for someone who has a disability, long term illnesses of old age related problems. On a gender basis, 38% of adult women, compared to 34% of adult men.
Furthermore, it was determined that 24% of Australian volunteers were working for employers who provide access to corporate volunteer programs. To put it simply, the demand for volunteer work has been rising; indicating an increase in interest and participation from many of us. Corporate volunteer programs provide companies with the opportunity to offer time off to employees and empower them to take part in being a better corporate citizen. However, with over 54,000 registered not-for-profits in Australia alone5, how do you know which organisations or values best fit yours?
Landcare Australia volunteers participating in a tree planting initiativei.
All Roads Lead to Rome?
The Answer is simple, “Let each employee decide their own.” Enter, Volunteering Time Off. Companies that engage in Volunteering Time Off – or VTO – offer paid time off to their employees, so that they may have the opportunity to give back to the community, by volunteering for a cause or not for profit organisation with which they identify.
VTO is now considered to be the ultimate millennial perk. With increased exposure and knowledge of world events, mainly due to social media, Millennials want to buy from and work for companies whose missions and vision they believe in6. Thus, in the eyes of a millennial, a company would be more attractive to them if they offered their employees a VTO policy, where they will have the opportunity to contribute their time to causes with which they personally identify; passions that can be nurtured in alignment to the company’s mission.
NetSuite Employees Volunteer More Than 3,100 Hours During Global Impact Weekii.
Netsuite, an American software company, is a great example of a company with a sound VTO policy. Netsuite.org is the corporate citizenship arm of Netsuite, which has a policy that allows employees sixteen hours of paid time off to participate in approved activities, such as:
- Global SuiteImpact Team Activities4
- Personal Volunteering activities, for not-for-profit charities
- Disaster relief efforts, through local organisations
Whether you work for Facebook or Google, companies are always exploring varying methods2 in order to improve their relationship with and amongst employees. We see it all the time. When companies invest in their employees, they build a more productive workforce3. A sense of community, purpose, aligned values, social contribution, work-life balance; a recent Harvard study has shown that these are the things employees want from their employers7. VTO is among the few activities that permit employees to have all of this through incentives that also benefit the community at large.
Accodex’s VTO Program
Recently, Accodex has become involved with Pledge 1%. Pledge 1% is helping to build a movement in Corporate Philanthropy and aims to make the community a stakeholder in every business. To participate in the Pledge 1% program, businesses give up 1% of their equity, 1% of their time, and 1% of their product.
For a full-time employee, pledging 1% of their time equates to 2 full days; Accodexians have the discretion to determine how they wish to spend this time. Passionate with youth entrepreneurship, childhood disability care and animal welfare, our team at Accodex have already pledged their time to contribute to organisations such as BO$$ Camp, Cara and the RSPCA.
Accodexians, like many other employees, work for companies that have a vested interest in the welfare of their local community. By channelling our team members’ drive and motivations, our new VTO policy will empower each individual at Accodex to actively take part in helping those within our community who are less fortunate.
Caitie and Penny participating in the 2014 Color Me Rad Fund Run.
One Final Message
Historically, successful businesses were judged based on the merits of their profits. Nowadays, the measure of a good business is much more dynamic. Businesses appreciate the importance of community involvement. Today, they take greater emphasis in maintaining a high level of ethical standards and corporate social responsibility.
The purpose of VTO is to give back to your community, rather than taking from it. It exists as a means to grant employees the opportunity to actively support organisations whose cause and motivation they identify and share.
While the argument can be made that VTO engagement does not bring in real and immediate financial benefit to a company – committing to this program for the purposes of financial gain is beside the point. As Adam Poswolsky identified within his article, Millennials are no longer simply motivated by financial incentives. They want purpose and a corporate identity that they believe in and are willing to sacrifice their wage to ensure this. VTO is the perfect solution as it not only empowers community involvement but it incentivises employees to promote your organisation’s values and mission. In the words of Costco CEO, James Sinegal, “When employees are happy, they are your very best ambassadors.
Chief Financial Officer
Written By: Caitie Copley
- Anonymous. (2015). Key facts and statistics about volunteering in Australia. Available: http://www.volunteeringaustralia.org/wp-content/uploads/VA-Key-statistics-about-Australian-volunteering-16-April-20151.pdf. Last accessed 8th Jul 2016.
- Bemporad, R. (2015). Employee Engagement: Five Companies That Get It. Available: http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/02/employee-engagement-five-companies/#. Last accessed 8th Jul 2016.
- Biro, M. (2014). Happy Employees = Hefty Profits. Available: http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghanbiro/2014/01/19/happy-employees-hefty-profits/#57aec5234f8b. Last accessed 8th Jul 2016.
- Hopper, T. (2015). NetSuite Employees Team Up for Local Communities for Global Impact Week. Available: http://www.netsuite.org/netsuite-employees-team-up-for-local-communities-for-global-impact-week. Last accessed 8th Jul 2016.
- Pascoe, S. (2016). Are there too Many Charities in Australia. Available: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/susan-pascoe/are-there-too-many-charities-in-australia_b_9247624.html. Last accessed 8th Jul 2016.
- Poswolsky, A . (2015). What Millennial Employees Really Want. Available: http://www.fastcompany.com/3046989/what-millennial-employees-really-want. Last accessed 8th Jul 2016.
- Thompson, A. (2015). The Intangible Things Employees Want from Employers. Available: https://hbr.org/2015/12/the-intangible-things-employees-want-from-employers. Last accessed 8th Jul 2016.