Three cheers for employee volunteers

Volunteers are a sign of a healthy corporate culture. By understanding their motivation, HR can figure out how to keep and energize them
By Gordon Green
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 01/17/2005

Volunteers are the fuel in the engine of every charitable organization, religious congregation and noble community endeavour. But their crucial role isn’t limited to the philanthropic; volunteers are also the heart and soul of many successful corporations.

Some of the most successful armies were built on volunteer soldiers who freely enlisted and put their lives on the line. Likewise, some of the most successful companies enlist the help of volunteers — people who willingly and faithfully serve their company and fellow workers on health and safety committees, recognition and award committees, mentoring programs, advisory boards or event planning committees. In fact, if you went to a company party over the holidays, it’s almost certain that its success was due to many hours of planning, preparation and service by employee volunteers.

Recruiting willing individuals, engaging their best efforts and appropriately rewarding them are essential to maintaining the corporate esprit du corps. But how does one reward a volunteer, a person who by definition does something for other people or for an organization, willingly and without compensation?