The impact of recognising employee volunteers

Recognition comes in many forms; from bonuses, to a congratulatory lunch, to a simple thank you – employees like to be recognised for their hard work and contribution.

So why specifically recognise employees for volunteering outside of your organisation? Although I actively encourage all organisations to recognise their employee’s contributions within their job role (after all they are your most valuable asset) employee volunteering is not part of the job description.

Recognising employee volunteers is more than common sense, evidence proves that recognising employee volunteers is good for your organisation. Recognised employees are more motivated, engaged and ultimately, more productive. Recognition programmes have been proven to effectively reduce employee turnover.

From my work with Investing in Volunteers for Employers I have come across a few different recognition programmes that vary in their size but all share the same objective – to motivate and encourage employee volunteering.

Some methods of recognition include giving employees time off for volunteering (the government is currently looking at introducing a mandatory three days paid volunteering leave) while others have gone on to introduce awards for their employee volunteers.

Five considerations for recognising your employee volunteers

  1. An employee’s motivations for volunteering are often not about recognition, however if you don’t have a recognition programme, think about starting one. Consider formal and non-formal methods such as time off to volunteer, competitive awards (especially team awards), charity of the month (acknowledging your staff’s choice of organisation to volunteer with), and case studies.
  2. Recognise volunteer employees for their impact on your own organisation. Align the employee recognition programme goals to the corporate mission and business goals. Show your employee volunteers that their engagement with volunteering elsewhere contributes to your organisation in the long-run. In some organisations employer supported volunteering programmes are included in performance reviews.
  3. Encourage peer recognition. While top down recognition is important, employee volunteers may want to be recognised from their peers as well. For example, promote the value your employees are bringing to the community and involve their colleagues by asking them to vote for the charity of the month.
  4. While having a plan for employee volunteering recognition ensures consistency in your practices, sometimes impromptu recognition can help your employees feel special. So bear this in mind when at your next team meeting, walking past their desk or writing them an email.
  5. Monitor your employee volunteers’ preferences of volunteer roles, charities and recognition methods and use this to inform your programmes in the future. Having an employee centred approach will help you build future programme practices based on what really works in your organisation instead of on what might be popular in other organisations at the moment.

Employees are an organisation’s biggest asset and recognising their volunteering is just another way to show your employees you support their community engagement and value them.

Recognition for organisations

Like employees, organisations strive for recognition for their impact on the local community and acknowledgement that their brand values their social responsibility.

The lord mayor’s Dragon Awards recognise best practice in community engagement. If you are inspired by the work of your partners, suppliers, clients, investors, or any other organisation that is doing great things in London’s communities, let them know their work hasn’t gone unnoticed.

If you think your contacts might be eligible to apply, please contact or call 020 7332 1762 to put them in touch.


The corporates are coming: five ways to make employer supported volunteering (ESV) work for your organisation

Want to know more about Employee Supported Volunteering (ESV)? Come to our Annual Conference workshop on 18 April 2016.

Find out more about NCVO Annual Conference 2016


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Patricia is NCVO’s Investing in Volunteers programme manager. She is responsible for managing both the Investing in Volunteers and Investing in Volunteers for Employers Quality Standards. Patricia has worked in the voluntary sector in volunteer management roles for over 10 years and is passionate about supporting volunteering.

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