The simplest, easiest, most cost-effective initial step that a business of any size can take to increase civic engagement is to provide information on, and generate awareness for, the service, citizenship and charitable opportunities currently available to its employees, in both the workplace, as well as the community. While these small steps will ultimately benefit all employees, they are particularly useful for newly hired, as well as relocated / transplanted, workers.
The most basic of information a company can provide to employees is what it does to support the community; what its views and policies are governing employee volunteerism, public service and giving, especially on company time or in the workplace; and the corporate programs already in-place that support employee initiatives, as well as how interested employees can participate. Some of the specific topics/questions that a company can proactively provide employees with answers to include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Does the company support an employee volunteer program?
- What are the policies and procedures for volunteering on company time?
- Does the company offer paid volunteer leave, and what are the guidelines?
- What are the company's views and policies on employees and their involvement in public service?
- How much time, if any, does the company provide employees to vote on Election Day?
- Does the company maintain a workplace/employee giving campaign?
- Does the company maintain a Matching Gifts program?
- Does the company maintain a Dollars For Doers program?
- What are the company's policies regarding the solicitation of fellow co-workers or politicking in the workplace?
- Does the company sponsor community events?
- Does the company support nonprofit organizations in my community?
- Does the company support drives to collect food, clothing, etc.
In addition to informing employees on various workplace activities and programs, businesses can significantly raise the level of civic involvement by helping to make employees more aware of the multitude of volunteer, public service and giving opportunities already available to them. A few examples include:
- Posting requests for volunteers from nonprofit organizations on company bulletin boards.
- Posting links to portals that match volunteers with local opportunities.
- Posting contact information for local volunteer centers.
- Posting information on various community events and activities surrounding various Federal and National Holidays.
- Posting requests for donations from nonprofit organizations on company bulletin boards (i.e., cash, food, clothing, blood, etc.).
- Inviting service, civic and charitable-minded groups to come and provide employees with information on themselves, their initiatives and how employees can give and get involved.
- Promoting National Volunteer Week, Make A Difference Day, etc.
- Encouraging employees to give generously during the holiday season.
Another simple and cost-effective initial step any company can take to help foster a greater level of civic engagement among its workforce is to provide employees with the names and contact information of organizations (and web sites) that offer local volunteer, public service and giving opportunities. A few examples of organizations that companies can put their employees in contact with include:
- Local volunteer centers
- Online volunteer portals (USA Freedom Corps Volunteer Network, Network for Good, etc.)
- Local nonprofit organizations, such as schools, hospitals, shelters, food banks, etc.
- Local chapters of national nonprofit, service organizations (i.e., Red Cross, United Way, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, etc.)
- Local governmental organizations, such as school boards, city/town councils, civic associations, election boards, etc.
- AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Senior Corps and USA Freedom Corps