What is VTO? 4 Important benefits

Worker in a shirt that reads "Volunteer," one of the words in the acronym VTO: volunteer time off.

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You may have heard of VTO but may not be sure what it means. Below, we break down the two different meanings of the acronym and explain the benefits of each.

What does VTO mean?

The acronym VTO stands for either volunteer time off or voluntary time off. These are different leave categories that businesses use.

Volunteer time off is when employees use their paid leave to give back to the community. Voluntary time off, on the other hand, is when full-time employees take unpaid leave without losing their employment status or benefits.

Since the meaning of VTO can differ based on context, let’s take a closer look at both:

What is voluntary time off (VTO)?

Voluntary time off is when an employee opts to take unpaid time off that is not sick leave. Companies offer VTO in order to give employees the opportunity to take a break without sacrificing their job status or benefits.

Words written in sand: Take some time off.
VTO and PTO, though they both have confusing acronyms with multiple meanings, differ in some key ways.

VTO vs PTO – what’s the difference?

PTO can mean “personal time off” or “paid time off.” The difference between voluntary time off and PTO is that PTO is generally paid leave, whereas voluntary time off is unpaid leave.

Is voluntary time off beneficial?

Yes! VTO can be incredibly beneficial to both employers and employees alike. For employers, it allows them to offer employees more flexibility and decrease stress levels, which can lead to increased productivity. For employees, it provides a way to take time off without using up their vacation days or sick leave.

What is volunteer time off (VTO)?

Volunteer time off is when an employee uses their paid time off to give back to the community or to a cause they care about. Many companies offer VTO as an incentive for employees, providing them with additional paid days off in exchange for volunteering their time and services.

Volunteers at a canned food drive, sorting cans.

Is volunteer time off beneficial?

Yes! VTO not only enables employees to better engage with their communities but also provides employers with the opportunity to be good corporate citizens and make a positive impact. Additionally, it can lead to increased job satisfaction among employees, which in turn can lead to improved productivity.

Below, we focus on volunteer time off and the many benefits it holds for your business, especially around the holidays.

Benefits of volunteer time off

As mentioned, offering this employee benefit will confer your business with many advantages. Some of the benefits include:

  • Attracting top talent
  • Retaining high-performing employees
  • Improving the image of the business or brand
  • Increasing employee productivity
  • Boosting employee morale

Let’s look at some of these in more detail.

1) Attract and retain top talent

A Deloitte study discovered that companies that enable their employees to volunteer their time gain recruiting advantages over those that don’t.

The study’s results showed that almost 2/3 of millennials preferred to work at businesses that offer VTO.

Volunteers in a park in a huddle circle, building teamwork.

Companies offering volunteer time off have a higher chance of retaining their top talents than those who don’t. This is especially true of millennial employees who do a lot of charitable and volunteer work.

By enabling them to fulfill their values, you demonstrate to them that your company is where they belong. Thus, you will reduce your company’s turnover rate and better retain your workforce.

2) Improve the business’ image

Another benefit of offering VTO is a better image, both for the business and the brand.

When you encourage your employees to volunteer, you show people in the community that your business is about more than making money. You demonstrate to them that you care and are willing to do your part in bettering the community.

This will make your business more attractive to potential employees, customers, and investors.

3) Encourage soft skill development

When you run a VTO program, you will be encouraging employees to develop soft skills that will improve your workforce.

Through their volunteer efforts, your employees will cultivate better collaboration, empathy, leadership, and accountability skills, among others. This will naturally be carried over to the workplace where they will be able to relate better with each other.

Employees increase their competency from 14-17% when they engage in volunteering. The result is a more vibrant, healthier, and productive work environment.

4) Increase productivity

Providing your employees with paid volunteer hours will help them feel fulfilled. This is to be expected, as they will know they are working with a company that cares, and that they are making a difference.

Millennials in a team circle with their hands in a pile.

Due to this fulfillment, they will be inclined to put more effort into their work and, thus, increase productivity.

In fact, studies show that companies that invest in VTO programs can increase their revenue and prevent losses from employee turnover.

Tips for implementing VTO policies

Implementing a VTO program comes with some of its own costs and challenges. You will need to give employees the opportunity to participate and then approve VTO offered.

To help you adopt a VTO policy painlessly, here are some tips:

1) Have a volunteer time off schedule

Volunteer time off can take a toll on the business if it leaves locations understaffed. This can be especially true for small businesses, where every employee is critical.

To resolve this, you should have a schedule on hand that stipulates each employee’s time off. By doing this, you will be safeguarding your business and ensuring each employee’s volunteering inclination is satisfied.

Woman in a volunteer shirt delivering wrapped food on a tray.

2) Specify organizations for VTO

While there are a million and one causes your employees can volunteer for, it might be better if you specify an organization or cause or have a list to choose from.

You can use this as a means of furthering your corporate social responsibility (CSR) and have them volunteer with a cause/organization your business is affiliated with. This allows you to accomplish two goals at once: work on your CSR and fulfill your employees’ need to make a change.

Conclusion: VTO is a good investment

A recent Deloitte survey discovered that, in the wake of the pandemic, more millennials (and Gen Zs) have become sympathetic toward those who have fallen on hard times.

These generations plan to do their part in improving their community.

As a business owner, you stand to gain a lot if you give these individuals an outlet to engage in volunteerism. VTO is a human resources policy that provides this outlet, and we encourage you to make the most of it. If you have a new employee orientation program, it’s the perfect time to introduce your new hires to the VTO opportunities in your organization.

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