Paid Time Off to Volunteer Around The World – How Smart Companies are Inspiring Employees

Ok… we are getting into business today. But don’t worry, I am not going to complain about claustrophobic cubicles, over-bearing bosses, or stifling office politics (well maybe a little). I am going to talk about one of the most innovative concepts in the employee incentive world right now – how companies are rewarding employees with time off to volunteer. And not just time…PAID time.

I am not talking about grandiose trips for only high-performing sales reps as an incentive. We all know… and are jealous. I am talking about volunteerism perks for the entire staff as a yearly benefit. Yes, it’s true…there are companies out there doing this. Most of them offer an additional 40 annual, paid working hours for employees to volunteer for the cause of their choice, as well as regular volunteer team building days during normal office hours. These companies actually understand employee motivation, work-life balance, and creating a company culture that retains and inspires their workforce. They are the minority, but they exist, and are growing faster than their traditional, attendance-tracking counterparts.

Powerhouses like Virgin, Patagonia and Microsoft understand this. Why is the rest of the corporate world lagging? And, why are companies offering incentive travel for sales reps, but still neglecting the customer service and account managers that take care of these clients once they are converted? Don’t they realize their entire staff affects their bottom line?

The potential benefits of the volunteerism perk are not limited to just the Google’s of the world trying to retain high-level talent. The payoff can affect every company, big and small. Richard Branson in an article on Entrepreneur.com supports this mindset, that business owners need to take off their traditional blinders and look at the ROI when employee benefits support and enhance their mission.

So I want all of you to read this, tweet this and share this with as many people as you can, so that this movement reaches the masses. It’s time for companies to open their eyes and use common sense to reward, mentor and encourage their employees in a way that speaks to them. It’s time for corporate bureaucracies to become human again.

Here are the facts for why it makes sense.

Passionate people = passionate people

Most of us remember how hard our first or last job search was…but what we don’t realize is how much harder it was for the company, in desperate need to fill their vacant position with the right person. Companies are truly dying for passionate, caring people that will bring an inspired attitude to their team.  You can teach most people any job, but you can’t teach the right attitude.

People who are passionate outside of work are far more likely to be passionate at work as well, and a volunteerism perk will attract them. In fact, it’s been proven that millennials are much more motivated by experiences than material things. So it just makes sense to offer them a perk that speaks to their heart and not just to their wallet. Businesses need to stop trying to recruit passionate people for their dull, uninspiring, strict working environments. New hires will run out the door faster than HR can read their 401K and health care benefits to them. Or, they will eventually end up uninspired and leave…

Empathy and Support = A culture of giving

If companies want employees to give 100% of their energy at work and even dabble in overtime, extra projects and requests… they have got to give a little. It’s very unlikely that employees will remain as “givers” over a long period of time without anything in return. They need to feel valued.

If employees are allowed paid time off to volunteer for a cause of their choice, than they will feel understood and impactful. This creates a more giving company culture where employees give back as a result. It’s no longer good enough to pick a company charity and then expect staff to spend their Saturday walking around a hot concrete track for “the CEO’s cause.” That is a lame attempt. If you are a business owner or executive – get to know your employees, learn what is important to them, then allow them to invest some time into it year after year. You will have employees for life, that will give back to you over and over.

happy employees = happy customers

It’s been proven that experiences where people are helping others lead to a euphoric “helper’s high.” They will certainly express this attitude when dealing with customers. I know some of the numbers guys out there may be rolling their eyes. But, if you think that employee psychology does not affect productivity, effectiveness and ultimately the bottom line, than your company is doomed for high turnover and training costs, combined with lower customer satisfaction. Businesses are made up of people – both internal and external customers. Employees who are ambassadors of  their companies as they impact the world in a positive way, have a greater effect than typical “corporate social responsibility” marketing tactics. A volunteerism perk moves your employees and customers to support your brand on a deeper level, year after year.

So, the bottom line is: rewarding employees with paid time off to volunteer both independently and as a team = a great return on investment. It just makes sense.

So to all those business owners, human resource executives and game-changers – what are you waiting for?  Join the Richard Branson’s of the world and throw away that clock-in, clock-out mentality. The time you are giving as a gift to your employees will be gained back + much, much more.

If you are an employee in an uninspiring workplace – I want to hear your thoughts! How would a volunteerism perk change things for you?

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