Ways Leaders Can Inspire Employees to Volunteer this Election Year
Looking for ways to feel more connected to your community and colleagues as we navigate 2020’s uncharted waters? Volunteering is a natural way to build connections, inspire kindness, and help improve your overall workplace environment — but is it really practical to encourage volunteering during a pandemic? Here are tips to help leaders keep the spark of service alive for yourself — and your teams — during this year’s election season.
Make it Safe to Stand for Something
With the election less than a month away, we’ve seen a significant spike in searches by individuals looking for ways to lend their time and talents to voting-related efforts in the U.S., and we’re seeing a parallel trend with nonprofits seeking help for their causes.
While encouraging politics at work can be dicey business, it can be a game-changer for your company culture to find ways to allow employees to express themselves, respectfully and constructively, rather than forbidding any activities. There are many nonprofits that embrace neutral, nonpartisan participation and can help you activate your teams in ways that build, rather than tear down harmony.
And the need for volunteers really is massive: due to complications posed by COVID-19, higher-risk populations feel less comfortable volunteering at the polls. According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, 58% of poll workers in the 2018 general election were over 60, an age group that has an increased risk of complications from COVID-19. There was a large shortage of election workers during the primaries, causing long lines and consolidation of polling locations.
Just an easy example of what’s available – Vote Dallas is a non-partisan group working to inform younger people in the Dallas area about the candidates running for office in Texas and what their stances are. They also have resources informing citizens if they are registered to vote, provide them with the correct paperwork and information needed to register if they are not, and then make sure everyone knows where to go to drop ballots or cast votes for early voting or on election day. Organizations like these are always looking for help and even have a place for volunteers to sign up right on their website!
Nationally, VolunteerMatch’s Virtual Volunteering Hub also seeks to shine a light on election-related volunteering and make these causes more accessible and may be helpful if you’re evaluating how to include voting or election-related causes in your program that allows teams to give back at a distance and from the safety of their own homes.
Present Employees with Alternative Options
Today’s teams are managing not only super busy work schedules – they’re adjusting to numerous new demands at home, on top of parent, caregiver, employee, and numerous other roles. While your employees may be feeling stretched thin by taking on these additional tasks, they can also feel deflated during this time due to canceled social events or community opportunities surrounding the election they normally would be involved in. A great way to encourage their participation while remaining nonpartisan is offering close seconds like:
- Host a virtual phone bank: You may not be sitting in your candidate’s campaign office with 100 other supporters, but you and a few socially distanced friends can make a difference. Help inform people about the election, get people registered, and let them know how they can help make a difference in their community!
- Hold a virtual house party: During the debates and nights leading up to the election, it is always fun to gather your friends and discuss the candidates. Take your group to video chat and have just as much conversation.
- Offer your skills: The candidate you support may need help with something you are really good at! This is especially true with local candidates and grassroots campaigns in your community.
- Write postcards: There really isn’t anything like getting a letter in the mail, especially a hand-written one. Send a personal note of why you are supporting a specific candidate and why the recipient should too.
During this time, in particular, your employees are looking for ways to engage their kids alongside them in service and civic engagement. So, encourage them to find ways to make it easy to give back together, and recognize, and even reward, family volunteer time as part of your workplace volunteering program. According to CECP, “volunteer participation rates are boosted when employees have access to more flexible volunteering opportunities.”
Make it Easy for Employees to Connect to Their Causes
As of this writing, nonprofits are recruiting for over 763,246 virtual volunteers through the VolunteerMatch network — and all these opportunities can be made available through your workplace giving and volunteering platform.
Encourage your staff to seek out virtual opportunities through your workplace giving and volunteering platform. Volunteer virtually together. Celebrate and share when teammates do good deeds. You’re bound to see not only increased employee satisfaction and engagement but feel good for making a difference. We’ve got more ideas and resources for you at the VolunteerMatch Virtual Volunteering Hub.
This is a great article if you’re looking for creative ideas for how employees can engage their whole families in service, while rising above the noise, during this election year or check out our latest blog for seven ways to get involved in the election now!
At VolunteerMatch, we create better ways to put time and talent to good use. As the web’s largest volunteer engagement network, serving over 130,000 participating nonprofits, 150 corporate network partners, and 13 million annual visitors, VolunteerMatch offers unique, award-winning solutions for individuals, nonprofits, and companies to make this vision a reality. Since launching in 1998, VolunteerMatch has helped the social sector attract more than $14 billion worth of volunteer services.