Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tutor/Mentor Programs as Workforce Development

As promised in my last post, this post is dedicated to the idea that companies should be promoting volunteering at tutor/mentor programs among their employees as a form of workforce development. At first, it may not seem logical why businesses should have any interest in promoting volunteerism among their employees, particularly when it has no relation to the mission of their company or is outside their sector. However, recent joint research report by the Points of Light Foundation and the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College argues that employee volunteer programs (EVPs) if implemented strategically, can actually produce positive returns on corporate investment, while providing sorely-needed resources to the organizations and causes that they are partnered with.

For instance, benefits include improvements in these following areas:

:: Employee morale, which can lead to greater company loyalty. An EVP brings about more face-to-face interaction among colleagues, leading to deeper relationships between employees. EVPs can also keep employees engaged by breaking the monotony and isolation of many low-skilled jobs and help employees to see themselves as more than another cog in the machine.

:: Recruiting tools--company support for employee volunteering involvement provides an additional incentive for strong candidates to accept job offers and helps increase the company's access to the best available people.

:: Employee skills development--participation in volunteer activities helps employees develop new skills and leverage their current skills in addressing community needs An EVP provides an opportunity for employees to: demonstrate an ability in taking on new and different responsibilities, broaden skill sets, get noticed by management and become "promotable" and build competencies through an employment-related volunteer activity.

:: Company image within the community, which can help to differentiate a company from its competition. EVPs provide opportunities for companies to: improve brand recognition, maintain positive perceptions, be a "good neighbor" in the community and meet expectations that the company is involved in communities where the employees live and work

:: Reputation among investors and consumers as a responsible corporate citizen

Each of the aforementioned areas have been investigated empirically through various research inititatives by groups at Walker Information Inc., the Corporate Citizenship Company, Consulting Network and the Institue for Volunteer Research.

As you can see, both employers and employees have much to gain through participation in Employee Volunteer Programs. Additionally, when employers take the responsibility of recruiting high-quality volunteers, tutor/mentor programs like Cabrini Connections do not need to expend so much effort and resources in our yearly volunteer recruitment campaigns. One of our goals is to encourage volunteerism among professionals as part of workforce development. We want leaders within companies and organizations to encourage employees, customers and vendors to participate in volunteer based tutor/mentor programs and to support this involvement with actions that encourage information sharing, process improvement, and employee growth.

We acknowledge that there are numerous companies that are already promoting Employee Volunteer Programs within their internal networks, or intranets. We also want to link those networks to web sites that connect volunteers with resources that are avaliable all over the web, such as those at our tutor/mentor institute or tutor/mentor connection so that they can benefit from the wealth of information that can develop them as tutors and/or mentors and perhaps direct them to further engagement with tutoring/mentoring in the future.

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