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Make the most of volunteer programs

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

Employee volunteer programs don't just help the community in which you live--they also offer real, tangible benefits to the companies that sponsor them. They can improve morale, strengthen employees' leadership and decision-making skills, and improve communication between workers and managers. Consider these tips:

Let employees take the lead in deciding where the company should focus its efforts. Find out what populations (youths, for example), issues, or causes the employees want to support.

Make it easy to volunteer. Seek out volunteer opportunities that are conveniently located near the workplace or employees' homes.

Offer initial hand-holding. Don't assume employees know how to volunteer, where to go, or what to do. Look for experienced volunteers among your employees to serve as mentors.

Provide a range of time commitments. For some employees, one-time participation in a sponsored event is preferable to ongoing community service. In all cases, make sure you can offer flexible scheduling that accommodates volunteer commitments.

Pay special attention to volunteer opportunities that relate to the company's mission. This will help make the volunteer program a tool for promoting employee commitment to the organization's values and vision.

Involve employees who are already active in the community, but don't overload them. Encourage them to enlist others to take part.

Work to get senior management interested. Their active participation will increase the program's visibility and help boost employee morale.

Keep all employees posted on the successes of the program. Ongoing communication is key. Document the efforts of your employees on behalf of community organizations, and make this information available throughout your company.

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