While most organizations have some kind of paid time off policy, there’s a new type of PTO that’s on the business scene these days: volunteer time off, otherwise known as VTO.
Why on earth would an employer pay their employees while not at their desks? Well, there are quite a few reasons. First, like many of the changes affecting company culture these days, VTO policies are largely promoted by millennial employees who are quickly becoming a force in the modern workplace.
Second, just because time off spent volunteering is a newly burgeoning trend doesn’t mean it’s uncommon. Volunteering have become widely prevalent within new benefits packages. More than 62 million people volunteered through or for an organization in 2015 — the last year the Bureau of Labor Statistics had records for — at a median average of 52 hours per year.
Encouraging employees to leave the office and serve the community represents your brand in an extremely positive light within your neighborhood, your audience base, and beyond. But before you institute a VTO policy, you need to understand the goals of the program. Looking at example policies is a good place to start. But before we dive into those, let’s examine how these policies work.
Often these policies don’t include massive amounts of time off. In fact, it’s common to allow just one VTO day (or 8 hours to be divided up) per employee per year. Furthermore, businesses can even specify which organizations are valid for VTO use. For example, Dartmouth College requires that VTO is spent volunteering for organizations that are affiliated with the United Way.
In many ways, volunteering time off policies function similarly to PTO policies. The most common policies include a requirement to request the time off beforehand and receive approval from a manager or supervisor, tasked with approving the day off. Sticking with the Dartmouth example, their policy requires that employees fill out their Volunteer Time Off Form and submit it to their supervisor with reasonable advance notice of the proposed time off.
Sometimes the best way to discern which VTO policy is the best fit your business is to find inspiration through what’s already out there. Here are six examples of VTO policies that other businesses are using: