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Is a Time Off to Volunteer Policy in Your Business's Future?

Author

Tess C. Taylor, PHR, SHRM-CP, CPC

More by Tess
Author

Tess C. Taylor, PHR, SHRM-CP, CPC

More by Tess

All over the United States, companies are looking to create a culture of giving back as part of their corporate identity. One way they're doing it is by offering paid time off to volunteer. Is your company considering a policy to allow time off to volunteer this year? Here are some reasons why that might be a good business move and how you can do just that.

Volunteering is as American as apple pie. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, 62.8 million U.S. adults volunteered 7.9 billion hours of their time in 2014. A company that supports civic responsibility often looks great to employees, especially millennials. The company also gains a good reputation within its community: a reputation that can have a favorable impact on your business.

A Growing Trend

The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), a nonprofit coalition of CEOs committed to community engagement, recently published Giving in Numbers: 2015 Edition. The coalition surveyed 271 large companies:

  • 59 percent provided paid-release time volunteer programs in 2014, up from 54 percent in 2012.
  • Giving grew for 56 percent of them between 2012 and 2014.
  • Giving increased by more than 10 percent for 42 percent of companies.

Is Time Off to Volunteer Within Your Business Means?

A business of any size or industry can implement a program that allows time off to volunteer and still respects the company budget. There are, however, certain things to consider.

First, each organization must decide how much time will be allotted for volunteer hours. Will the program offer paid or unpaid time off for volunteering hours? Be sure to think about potential wage and hour implications, for example, deducting exempt employees' pay for company-sanctioned volunteer efforts would likely be considered unlawful. You may also wish to consider capping the paid time off to a certain amount of hours per year, so that it remains affordable.

Second, consider how volunteer time will be validated and tracked, particularly for paid time off. An online payroll system that includes a category for volunteer hours can be a good way to handle this.

Finally, the company should carefully track how volunteering impacts internal performance. According to Doing Good Is Good for You: 2013 Health and Volunteering Study, conducted by UnitedHealth Group and the Optum Institute, when adults volunteer, employers benefit from better employee health and professional skills development.

Create a written policy for your workforce that addresses all of the above factors, educates employees about the new benefit and encourages them to start thinking about the causes they believe in. Over time, volunteer policies can help improve morale, enhance employees' views of company leadership and encourage a positive view of your organization within the community.