Getting employees to volunteer for your CSR events can be extremely challenging, and stressful. 40-50 hours in office a week should never be all about work. We are humans, remember? Sometimes we forget, thanks to technology which is enabling us to do more. Work never stops. We need to stop, to recharge.
I’d like to highlight three essentials to driving a successful employee volunteering program. It doesn’t matter which industry you are in, keep these in mind and you are set. Sharing the first of three in this post.
We are human beings, built with a sense of purpose. We have a conscience that finds solace in good deeds. A job is not everything for most employees. Many look to engage themselves beyond work.
Many want to make a difference in people’s lives. Gear up to guide the changemakers, maybe you’ll end up awakening some sleeping giants as well.
As a CSR manager, before you reach out to create a team, dig in to learn more about the organisation.
Read up on all your programs, and spend some time planning roles for employees for your big splash first event. Focus on optimizing employee time for the event. Find out about previous volunteering events organized by teams, if any. See how you can up the ante. Arm yourself with relevant info before stirring up leaders and managers with large teams.
You may have it all together, still, stick to protocol. Connect with your Employee Communications team to ideate on channels to reach out to all employees. Best to keep it digital, use email, intranet, and digital displays.
Make sure your email is not too long. Partnering with Employee Communications helps reduce content that can be avoided for your email(s). If employees don’t like your first email they won’t bother looking at it later. It’s very important to set the right expectations. State the facts, current scenario and how we can make it better. CTA should be first, context setting can be done in the latter part of the email. Those who are interested will read through it all.
With an email sent, along with the rest of the shebang, continue to dialogue with leaders informally.
You may not get a great response initially, don’t worry! If 25/5000 people respond, congratulations, make an email list. Call for a quick meeting, to set the right expectations. Off the 25, maybe only 15 are able to attend your meeting. Despite your having called everyone personally. What is common among the 15 employee volunteers? A Shared Purpose to make a difference. These are your proactive, genuine volunteers, ready, willing and able to champion relevant employee volunteering causes for your CSR program.
During the meeting (30-45mins);
- Avoid presentations, unless you have some awesome content to showcase. Speak straight from your heart, be transparent and clear. Do not try to please, be honest. Only the truth can set you and others free.
- Detail on how employees can make a huge difference across all programs.
- Encourage questions. In your responses, look for ways to connect their aspirations to Company (CSR) objectives.
- Assign Employee Leads for various focus areas under your CSR program for future employee driven volunteering campaigns.
- Conduct a quick exercise to decide on a name for the team of active employee volunteer leads; in case there isn’t one.
- Appoint leads and delegate roles for your big splash first event with your most active NGO partner.
- Share as much information possible for the upcoming event so they feel comfortable and look forward to the event.
- Post meeting, with dates set for the event, work with this core group to mobilize employees for volunteering. Since it is the first event, lead the entire experience. Give them enough material to reach out to their larger team and other employees. Share every detail possible to empower these future volunteer leads on the Who, When, Where, What, Why, and How. From the choice of NGO, Purpose, Benefit to Company/Employees/NGO, Minimum number of employees, to Budget, etc. It helps employee leads to take up responsibility for the next event.
Pre-Event, brief the entire group of volunteers on the do’s and don’ts. Stir them up, encourage, do the work of an evangelist. During the event, make a mental note of how some employees were being proactive. Post-event, appreciate those employees who were exceptional, personally. Take feedback, respond positively to those employees if it’s possible to implement their suggestions. Appreciate the team of volunteers with an email, mark managers where possible (not every manager endorses CSR activities).
As a CSR Manager or an Employee Volunteer Champion you need to lead the entire experience in a way you feel best to ensure volunteers are motivated to come back for the next event. Leading the initial events will build their confidence to take it up themselves in the future. Sometimes it gets difficult to let go, to allow others to lead. As a CSR Manager or Employee Lead, you need to focus on your core job instead of giving away too much time to managing volunteering events.
Building a core team is not a one-time effort. It requires commitment and drive to keep employee volunteers going. Make it a point to connect with them regularly, informal get-togethers yield better results for non-core activities.