How to establish a long-lasting Volunteer Time Off (VTO) programme

Setting up a successful Volunteer Time Off (VTO) policy takes time and skill, but is a worthy investment. Project ROI found that social responsibility programmes, such as VTO, lead to a 50% reduction in employee turnover and a 13% increase in productivity. VTO is an effective social responsibility programme and it can give companies a competitive edge in recruitment.

Creating a VTO policy

As with most projects, the first step is to make a list. In this case, a list of charities and causes that employees would like to support. Management might have specific charities in mind, but they might also allow each employee to decide which charity they would like to support. Companies that have already implemented VTO, such as Salesforce, recommend allowing employees to register their preferred charities and creating a resource everyone can access.

It is then necessary for management to decide how much time employees will be able to spend volunteering. Some companies offer one paid working day off per year which translates to eight hours per year per employee. According to Workest, it is also important for the company to be clear about who can access the VTO policy, how to sign up, and how to review the progress of the scheme. On top of that, it will be useful for management to find a way to send regular notifications and reminders about VTO.

Draw inspiration for your VTO scheme from these policies that have been particularly successful.

Encouraging employees to engage with VTO

The challenge after the policy has been created is to encourage employees to make full use of it. These tips might come in useful:

  • Involve senior members of the company and lead employees by example. If the CEO is seen taking time off work to volunteer, that will send the message that others should do the same.
  • Listen to the concerns of your employees. Some people might be concerned about finding someone to take over their work while they are away; it is the job of management to listen to their concerns and help them find ways around them.
  • Spread the word. Encourage employees to share stories and experiences from their volunteering work, create communication channels that will allow them to easily do so. Consider matching every hour people spend volunteering to further incentivise people to volunteer.

Find more details about how to overcome challenges in implementing VTO policies here.