Building a core team is a consistent process. It does not end with having 10-15 employees on board. It’s only the beginning.
Apart from sustaining the current team, you need to ensure they are willing to mentor future core members. The Employee Experience needs to be fulfilling for volunteers to make that transition. They need to feel deeply for the program, and must be willing to develop those internal relationships.
Get to know your volunteers leads. What drives them? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? Which are the areas you can mentor them in, or which are the programs best suited for them to shine through?
Let’s say you have employees who play music, and are thinking of volunteering. They are either shy or unsure of which program to take up from among the various CSR offerings. Get these musicians together and create a band which could join employee volunteers during their trip to various NGOs for one day events. It’s a great platform for these employee musicians to exhibit their talent, and evaluate areas they could get serious for volunteering. It could be as simple as teaching a group of children at an orphanage how to play the guitar, or basic coding, or teaching them math creatively.
There are all types of volunteers to deal with, it takes time and effort to get into their minds and hearts. Encourage them to speak their mind, be upfront with those who have expectations that cannot be fulfilled within the current scope. Provide them with alternative external options, if you are aware.
Find a volunteer match for different programs. A volunteer may prefer to do a long term project without having to enter into a process oriented Pro Bono program. Get him/her directly introduced to a partner NGO. Another may want to learn and do via Pro Bono. Get dirty, do the due, whatever enables overall good for a better experience.
Keep your core volunteers informed. Before an all-employee announcement, be it email, digital displays, or town hall, your core team should already be aware. It makes them feel special and wanted.
Empower them with critical knowledge on revised messaging, policy changes and whatever impacts their area of volunteering. It gives them a sense of belonging, and need to take action.
Provide exclusive social content to share via social media. Who does not love being RTed, or Liked? Of course, it’s not social vanity that drives committed volunteers, it’s being part of purpose driven conversations with a larger (external) audience.
Invite senior leaders, who are icons and encourage volunteering, to motivate key volunteers. Organise 30 min interactive sessions to drive core messaging to reiterate organisational culture or inspire them with personal stories. Check with them what they want to hear from the leaders. It’s always great to listen to leaders who resonate your thinking, boosts team confidence.
Talk to managers, wherever possible. Not every manager is supportive of their reportees taking time out for volunteering. For those who do, chat up with them, get insights on their reportee volunteers skills and temperaments. Seek advice on how they think their reportees who volunteer can be more effective. If there is a particular skillset he wants the team to have, which of the CSR offerings make most sense according to them for one of his reportees to take up.
Employee Volunteering is not a one way street. It provides the opportunity for employees to hone skillsets which may not be utilised in their core jobs.
Stir up conversations with senior management on benefits of employee volunteering towards overall employee, and company productivity.
These are some of the avenues one can tap to inspire a core team. It gets lonely sometimes for core volunteers. That feeling of “I’m having to do it alone”, if left unchecked can wane their interest quickly, decrease their motivational levels. One of the worst kinds of people in your team are those who are actually bored, yet, showcase a false sense of commitment only to gain attention or those who feel they have nothing else to do.
Engaging employees, be it for volunteering or for other programs is more about grace, than fulfilling law. It’s more qualitative than it is about quantity. It’s more about the intangibles over the tangible processes implemented. It’s all about providing a meaningful experience that lights up a persons inner man.
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