Employers may want to follow these guidelines when considering how best to recognise and reward employee efforts:
Recognition should fit with the organisation’s culture. A visit by a very senior member of management to a branch volunteer team could be a significant morale booster. Involve all the key players in the programme and your organisation.
- Respect volunteers’ privacy. If recognition is public (for example, a profile in the staff magazine or an award presentation) employees should be asked in advance if they are willing to accept this form of publicity. This is particularly the case if you are planning to recognise employees who volunteer on their own, rather than through the company programme.
- Keep in touch regularly with departmental co-ordinators and committee members, to give them a chance to talk and to express your appreciation of their efforts.
- Choose who to recognise and why with care. The value of recognition may be diminished if it is given out to too many people for different levels of achievement. Write thank you letters or emails to individuals and groups whose efforts are too small to warrant a substantial recognition symbol.
- The best rewards are often non-financial. If money is offered, it could be given as a donation to the charity of the individual’s or group’s choice.
- Promote peer group recognition. This can be the greatest reward of all and being asked to talk about their achievements to other branches or public events can instil a great sense of pride.
- Remember other employee volunteers. In the preamble to any award ceremony or event, always refer to the volunteering efforts of individuals who choose to volunteer outside the company programme.
- Thank your volunteers promptly. Send thank you letters or emails within two weeks of the event or project being completed, when the experience is still fresh in their minds. It is impossible to say thank you too much or too often.
Gaining recognition for all involved
Don’t forget to acknowledge the efforts of others involved in your employee volunteering programme. These include:
- secondees and others involved in longer-term volunteering projects
- line managers who have facilitated the volunteering to take place
- branch volunteering co-ordinators who help to put together programmes
- partner organisation contacts.
There are also ways to ensure that your organisation’s contribution is highlighted and rewarded. These include:
- national award schemes for volunteering (such as the Whitbread Volunteer Action award)
- local award schemes for community action (such as those run by the local newspaper).