How to Use Unused PTO for Volunteering

By Rob Whalen - Nov 17, 2022 8:00:00 AM - 6 MINS READ

The season of giving is in full effect. While we look forward to spending some much-needed time with our families and friends, it is also the time to give back. Despite the holidays, volunteering opportunities are available year-round, and workplaces encourage their workforce to give their time to charitable organizations.  

Volunteering time off (VTO) is a version of PTO in which employees can take time off work to contribute meaningfully to their communities–without sacrificing a day’s pay. According to recent studies, 46 percent of companies (especially in the tech and financial sectors) recognize the importance that VTO has on their workplace culture.

However, some companies aren’t quite there yet, with 52 percent lacking a VTO policy. As employers begin to realize, the secret to employee attraction and retention is enhancing the company culture–and what better way to do that than through volunteering opportunities?  

Types of VTO

As with many PTO policies and programs, there is no one size fits all approach. Instead, VTO policies must align with the company’s culture. Here are a few ways VTO can operate:

  • Donation matching: Employers may opt to contribute to charitable organizations based on their employees' efforts. This amount is usually $500 to $1,000 annually.
  • Employer selected: In pursuing a positive company culture, companies may use this VTO approach. Employers choosing the time and organization will better enable bonding opportunities among their employees. 
  • Allotted hours: Separate from sick days or vacation days, employers can reserve a couple of days out of the year specifically for volunteering purposes.
  • Employee selected: In this day and age of worker- flexibility, companies may allow employees to be the decision-makers regarding what organization/activity they volunteer for. 

Volunteering improves company culture 

We all know companies are searching for ways to be more competitive in the hiring arena and improve their corporate social responsibility reputation; however, the internal environment of an organization will see the greatest positive impact of VTO. 

Contributing your time and effort to a good cause is life-changing, and what better way to build co-worker relationships than through this type of shared experience?  If team-building is an area that your workplace needs the most improvement on, then your employer will most likely choose a time and organization that you and your fellow employees can all attend. 

Every community has a unique need. Whether donating your time to the local homeless shelter, participating in a clothing drive, or picking up trash at the park, make your volunteering efforts ones which you and your coworkers find the most meaningful. This will aid you in learning more about one another outside the office. 

When we think of how we want to spend our days off, volunteering may not be the highest on the list. While going on vacation or reading a good book may do the job when it comes to recharging, contributing your time and effort to a good cause can do wonders for your mental health. According to a 2020 study, 70,000 respondents noted that volunteering improved their overall health and wellness. Volunteering has long-term benefits as well, studies showing that 93 percent of employees who volunteered had better moods and 79 percent had lower stress levels. 

These days, talent is hard to attract—and maintain. Employees everywhere want more from their employers, especially regarding values and overall workplace culture. Millennials, in particular (who make up the majority of the workforce), are looking for companies whose values align with their own. Even though not all companies offer VTO, many see the competitive advantage the program could give them in the war for talent. 

The timing could never be better

Volunteering isn’t just an activity that is encouraged but rather necessary, 70 percent of employees admit to not giving back as much as they would like. Take a look at what VTO policies your company already has, and be sure to turn to PTO Exchange and see how you can exchange your unused PTO for community giving. Request a demo of our platform today.

Rob Whalen

Rob is co-founder and CEO of PTO Exchange.

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