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Covid friendly volunteering to help your team prevent burnout


Everything’s changed in 2020. Employer sponsored volunteering, corporate social responsibility and team-building activities, none of these staples of corporate life are what they were before the pandemic.

But it doesn’t mean we need to abandon them altogether. 


Dealing with employee burnout – spot the signs

We don’t need to go into detail on why many of us are experiencing high levels of stress at work this year; long days in front of a screen, constant uncertainty and worry, and a lack of doing what we love to wind down.

However burnout is a particular long-term stress reaction that can present as physical and/or mental collapse, and is not the same as stress. Physically, employees may experience headaches, fatigue, and shortness of breath. They may lose their appetite and change their eating habits – it’s worth keeping an eye out on when employees take lunch, and reminding them to do so. Emotionally, people experiencing burnout can become more irritable, leading to poor interpersonal communication. Rather than jumping to conclusions, it might be worth considering whether this is a sign of burnout. 

Highly stressed individuals on the edge of burnout can still present as very engaged, so it can be tricky to catch it before it’s too late. And by too late, we mean an employee needing to take days, weeks, or even months off to recover. 

Here’s where CSR activities or employee-sponsored volunteering (ESV) comes in (check out these companies at the top of their CSR game!). By scheduling in regular group down-time; time when employees can relax and talk freely about their experiences and emotions while engaged in a feel-good activity, you may be able to not only spot the early signs, but mitigate the likelihood of long-term stress building up to breaking point. 


Finding Covid friendly volunteering near you and your employees

Local charities often advertise on their own websites or on jobs boards, so these can be worth checking out, though it may take some time to trawl through Google’s search results. There are also organisations out there that act as mediators to set companies up with charities that need volunteers or tasks done. While often a nicely streamlined process, this is likely to be the most pricey option. 

As we transition to a new home-working phase, it is likely that your employees are more spread out than they were before. This means that what is local for one employee, might not be local for another. We recommend working with employees individually to find opportunities near to them specifically, or that fit in with their own schedule, so that CSR or ESV doesn’t become another chore, and actually add to that stress build up.

We have developed our volunteering app with an interactive map to show users micro-volunteering activities (also called bite-sized volunteering) near them, so that the experience is tailored to each individual user. So that it can still feel like a team endeavour, we have added an element of gamification, so that employees to collect points, and – coming soon! – race their colleagues to the top!   

Why virtual volunteering might be the answer

As the coronavirus crisis continues, in-person volunteering opportunities may be put on hold, or become unsafe for employees to join. But all is not lost! Virtual volunteering has blossomed in recent years, and may be the perfect opportunity for your employees to enjoy, and give back. 

There are loads of great apps out there that help you do good at the tips of your fingers, but we think ours is pretty unique in the range of activities we’ve gathered, just for you! Whether you – or your employees – have 10 minutes to spare, or a couple of hours, we’ve got bite-sized tasks ready to be completed. And the best part is you don’t need to leave your home! Though we would recommend taking a short walk, grabbing a cup of tea, and settling down in a different chair before starting your micro-volunteering adventure. 

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