We believe it’s important to pitch in and make a difference. It’s about more than just giving money to worthy causes. It’s about getting involved.
To encourage employee volunteerism, the Principal Financial Group® offers a special benefit to employees called Volunteer Time Off (VTO). Through VTO, employees can use eight hours of paid work time per year to volunteer with an organization that means something to them--helping neighborhood schools, assisting community nonprofits, supporting local events and more.
Through the Principal Volunteer Network and our VTO benefits, employees log tens of thousands of volunteer hours each year. The ways in which employees use their VTO are as unique as employees themselves.
“I’ve used my Volunteer Time Off the past six years to support the RAGBRAI Dreamteam, an organization primarily for disadvantaged youth,” explains Brian Horsfall, a senior IT application analyst at The Principal, in Des Moines. RAGBRAI is an annual seven-day bike ride across the state of Iowa, covering nearly 500 miles.
“The team starts training every February with one simple goal: ride every mile of RAGBRAI,” Horsfall continues. “In the beginning, some of the youth lack physical fitness and self-confidence. By the time RAGBRAI rolls around that summer, they have gained the confidence and fitness level needed to ride every mile of RAGBRAI, regardless of weather conditions.”
Jessie Valasek, a senior client services assistant for The Principal in Grand Island, Neb., uses her time to volunteer at the Nebraska State Fair. “I helped prepare and hand out lunches for the elementary school students who attended the fair as part of a field trip to Nebraska's ‘largest classroom,’” she says.
VTO is also a great way for parents to get involved in their kids’ activities. Cheryl Yost, a senior account executive with The Principal in Philadelphia, Pa., shares her story. “Two years ago, my daughter’s third grade Brownie troop leader stepped down from her role. I had been active with the troop and was asked to take over. As a working mom, I decided instead to form a committee of four working moms to co-lead the troop for the year.
“After a few planning meetings to get us started,” she continues, “we've been very successful with the troop, and the girls are having fun. I run a meeting every other month and take two hours of Volunteer Time Off for each meeting. It’s been a great experience.”
In 2012, employees reported using nearly 26,000 hours of Volunteer Time Off, with countless additional hours dedicated to their communities on their own time.