Guest post by Chris Martin
The era of employees clocking in at 9 a.m., completing their daily tasks, and then heading to physically clock out – and cognitively check out – at 5 p.m. is over.
Work is intertwined with home life, and home life is carried into work each day. Technology has contributed to blurring the lines, but that seems to be the way we want it. Why? Maybe because more individuals are investing in their employer and taking pride in their organization’s brand – people actually want to be at work.
A huge contributor to this trend is employee volunteerism, which has risen steadily over the last decade. It’s a known fact that if you want the best talent you have to offer the best work environment, and lately, that means building an Employee Volunteer Program (EVP). People want to believe in what they do and more often than not this means giving your employees a chance to give back to their communities.
Now that EVPs are becoming a norm, the big question is: How do you measure ROI? Well, that depends largely on who you ask.
If you ask a handful of senior accountants to measure your EVP, they’re going to calculate every piece of data and crunch every number they can get their brilliant, mathematical hands on. This is important to a certain degree, but it only tells a portion of the story – the story of business logic. But to truly measure ROI from an EVP, you must also measure human emotion.
Why is human emotion so important when discussing employee volunteerism? Because the majority of volunteers have chosen where they wish to get involved (and where they work!) based on emotional and personal attachment, which far supersedes any type of measurement a quantitative assessment can show.
When you build an EVP, you (should) always include a piece about “movement”: Where you start and where you end up. The goal, in other words. This lets you easily “see” the difference your program has made.
And the difference is the key ingredient to a wholesome EVP that not only rewards your community and your organization, but also employees as well.
So, if numbers alone aren’t enough to show the true ROI of your EVP, then what else is there?
Partnering with a nonprofit and building an EVP brings huge branding wins for your organization, such as being seen as a responsible corporate citizen, increasing community exposure, and your employees who are also viewed as caring individuals. But that is old news.
How about the other major way of surveying things: qualitative measurements?
In case you’re of the old mindset that thinks businesses shouldn’t care about emotional and intrinsic motivations, consider that the qualitative ROI is heavily concerned with your employee retention. It’s the part that makes your employees more engaged; the part that builds on their productivity-related skills sets; and the part that lets management know who the real leaders are.
The best part is that it isn’t difficult; all you have to do is answer 3 simple questions.
- What difference has it made in your employee’s attitudes?
Ask your supervisors, and if you don’t have a direct supervisor who could easily speak to the uptake in positive office atmosphere, then make a point of contacting the employees directly and finding out – people respond well to honest questions. If you’re concerned that their responses might be skewed because of “Speaking to Management” syndrome, offer an anonymous survey. If you’re still worried people might think it isn’t anonymous, then you have to revisit the drawing board and build trust with your employees. If they won’t open up and provide you with qualitative data, you’re missing half the ROI picture.
- Who is volunteering the most?
Time to find your leaders, both current and future. 90% of Human Resources professionals say that pro-bono volunteering is an effective way to develop leadership skills. You want your employees to constantly be improving and learning. People seeking to continue building their skills are natural go-getters. Identifying the individuals who are excelling in your EVP is a great start to assessing who is going to be a long term, ready to promote employee.
- Do your employees feel that volunteering is making a difference?
The in-house goal of staff members gaining the multitude of benefits that volunteering brings results in:
- Fewer sick days
- Increased productivity
- Enjoying time at work as they would time away from work, which loops back to less time off and more productivity
Yes, your PR and marketing efforts will also benefit (and that’s great news!), but the ultimate tell of whether or not your EVP is bringing in a positive ROI is in whether or not your employees are on board.
If they are, they will stop their constant job search and start investing in your organization.
There is no need to fret if your EVP hasn’t been measuring qualitative ROI yet. Remember that you’re still one of the wonderful organizations that is working to build stronger communities and happier employees. Then send this article to your HR department so they too can realize the benefit that qualitative assessments can bring.
About the author: Chris Martin is a former social worker and currently the Senior Marketing Coordinator for Charity Republic, a company specializing in promoting volunteerism and community engagement via accessible and efficient technology solutions.