I recently attended an award ceremony for our local SES unit where my husband has been a member for 20 years. The room was full of people from all walks for life – ages ranged from 18 to 70 something, university students, workers and retirees, diverse ethnic backgrounds and members of the LGBTQI community. The one thing they had in common was their passion for the SES and their roles in helping the communities they serve. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if organisations could harness that passion – imagine the engaged workforce they’d have!
So how does your organisation support employees who are committed to volunteering and community service? Is it part of your DNA or a token gesture?
Community service leave forms part of the National Employment Standards (NES) and allows employees to be absent from work to engage in certain community service activities such as voluntary emergency management activities dealing with an emergency or natural disaster.
But what if your employee’s passion isn’t volunteering in emergency management? How can you support them to get involved in serving the community they love? Here are a few suggestions to add to your toolkit if you haven’t already:
- Allow your employees to hold funding raising events at your office or site. These are often short and sharp, for example a morning tea, with little disruption to the day.
- Implement paid volunteer leave into your leave suite. This could be as many days per annum as suits your business. If you’re not sure, start off with one day per annum, monitor the usage and enthusiasm of your employees and determine whether to expand it.
- Run team building activities where your staff go offsite and work for charities who need hands on help. You could choose a charity who is aligned with your values or company purpose; or you could let the team choose what they’d like to do. This is a great way to bond as a team over a shared experience, doing something good for someone else.
- Create a ‘scholarship’ type program where employees can apply for funding to attend an activity/event to provide their expertise in a certain field or simply be a helping hand for a few days or a week. The funding provided would be put towards paid leave, flights, accommodation and meals.
The proviso for employees utilising any of your community service programs is that they tell the rest of the team what they did. You could do this in a newsletter, at a team meeting, on your company’s intranet site or at your annual conference. I’ve seen first-hand how excited employees are when they talk about their chosen charity and how they spent their time with them.
My husband has been lucky enough to work for organisations who have supported him when he’s attended bushfires and floods around the state for weeks at a time. He is extremely grateful for their support, but more importantly he speaks very highly of them when anyone asks. Do you want to be one of those organisations?