The Office of Personnel Management is calling on agencies to expand opportunities for federal employee teams to volunteer their time as part of the Combined Federal Campaign, a program that encourages feds to donate to approved charities each year.

In a June 1, 2018, memo to agency chief human capital officers, OPM Director Jeff Pon wrote that volunteer activities have been shown to boost employee morale and retention, while enhancing critical skills such as leadership, technical abilities and communication.

Feds have been able to pledge volunteer time as well as money to the CFC since 2017, after an October 2016 executive order mandated the expansion of possible contributions. But the new memo calls on agencies to develop their engagement with employees on volunteer programs.

The memo suggested five actions agencies could take to promote volunteerism through CFC:

  • Develop guidance on priority volunteer areas and leave policies for volunteer activities done during the work day.
  • Use staff meetings, organization-wide emails and the agency intranet to communicate with employees about volunteer opportunities.
  • Establish a volunteer recognition program.
  • Create a system for tracking the fulfillment of pledged volunteer hours.
  • Host charity events with CFC-participating organizations to facilitate volunteerism.

The guidance also suggested promoting team building volunteer opportunities for employee groups by asking organizations questions about what kind of volunteer work they would be most passionate about doing, and using the responses to pair teams with volunteer opportunities that would best suit them.

“For maximum employee engagement, federal agencies should provide details about the charity and its volunteer opportunity to employees to enhance recruitment efforts; highlight skills needed to engage in volunteer activities to enhance training impacts; and provide time to debrief, reflect, and/or provide feedback on the experience to enhance the personal connections made with the charities and communities,” the memo said.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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