Employee Volunteer Program: Off the Charts Success!
When we sat down to challenge ourselves on how WSECU could have a deeper and more meaningful impact in the neighborhoods and communities we serve, we did a quick inventory of what assets we have to share. What’s our biggest asset? Our employees, of course.
We have one year under our belt of offering paid release time for staff to volunteer in their communities for organizations that fit with education; self-sufficiency; public employees & assets; and, small business & entrepreneurship.
Here are a few things we learned. First, set realistic goals. You know how it is…the launch of a new program can be dicey. Will people want to participate? If so, how many? We had a bit of a twist: not every organization meets our criteria for approval, so if people’s pet causes weren’t included, would that discourage people from volunteering on company time?
I’m happy to say our goals were only unrealistic because they were too low! We thought that at the most, 25 percent of staff might give it a go. Seemed like a good baseline for starters. It turns out that at the end of 2014 more than 59 percent of WSECU employees volunteered through our new program! And some 30 percent used the full benefit which was eight hours for full-time employees and four hours for part-time employees.
We learned that though the benefit is for the individual, people really like the fun and camaraderie of volunteering in groups. So this year we’re planning more group activities, including more “micro volunteering” events. Micro volunteering is when you bring the volunteer activity right in-house, making it easy for employees to participate. At one event, in just four hours we packaged up nearly 4,000 hygiene kits of small shampoos, soaps and toothpaste for distribution to school children by the Thurston County Food Bank.
On my to-do list this year includes reaching out both to employees and partner organizations to better understand the needs of each and how we can assure that our employee volunteerism program is working well for everyone. We have a great start under our belt and now it’s time to build on it.