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Promote staff volunteerism, but not for firm’s benefit

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in Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

Q. Our CEO just implemented a new employee evaluation goal based on their volunteer work throughout the year. The more they volunteer, the higher the points they receive on their review, ultimately increasing their salary. Can we do this without risk? —T.M., Maine

A. You can, as long as the volunteer activities are completely unrelated to your organization. An employer should not link an employee's pay or performance evaluation to volunteer activities that are performed for the employer or benefit the employer in some way (such as a marketing campaign that highlights employees' volunteer work). If you wish to encourage public service by rewarding employees for their civic activities, you can do so.

The problem with “volunteer” work that's being done for your company's benefit is that it's probably not truly voluntary, and the Labor Department frowns on such “coerced volunteerism.”

Bottom line: You can set a policy that encourages employees to be good citizens. But you'll spark trouble if employees are asked to volunteer for your organization or for its indirect benefit.

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