Volunteer Time Off at NetApp

Part 2 in a two-part series on NetApp's Volunteer Time Off program.


What would you do with five full days of paid time off each year to do volunteer work for any school or non-profit charitable organization of your choice?  At NetApp, employees use their Volunteer Time Off (VTO) to support a broad array of charitable organizations they are personally passionate about.  We have over 13,000 employees around the world that have this opportunity in more than 150 locations.  They spend their time building homes with Habitat for Humanity, creating new charitable foundations such as the Gastric Cancer Fund, or spending a week at Girl Scout camp as a photographer. (continued after the video...)



The VTO program was launched in 2007 to provide everyone at NetApp the opportunity to give something back to their local community by donating their time to a cause they care about.  Each calendar year, every employee can take up to five full days off during business hours to do volunteer work of any kind.  A unique aspect of our program is that employees can take all five days off in a row, which makes a big difference for those of us who used to have to take vacation time off to accomplish the community service work we’d like to do, such as attending a board of directors retreat, chaperoning a class trip to Washington, D.C. or traveling to a remote site to build homes for low income people.


The process is simple.  An employee asks their manager for time off just as they would for vacation to ensure that being out of the office to do volunteer work won’t have an adverse impact on our business.  Once approved, the employee simply logs their time off using our payroll system, and their volunteer time is recorded.  In calendar year 2011, 2,295 employees around the world donated 37,661 hours of volunteer time during business hours valued at $2,111,846.


While the program lets each employee choose what to do, we also offer VTO on the GO! days throughout the year that enable teams of employees to work together at local charities, thus helping to strengthen teamwork and build camaraderie across departments.  In Sunnyvale, where our corporate headquarters is located, teams have picked apples at Filoli, sorted food at Second Harvest Food Bank, built playhouses with Habitat for Humanity, assembled teaching kits for Resource Area for Teaching, rebuilt homes with Rebuilding Together, taught classes with Junior Achievement and planted trees and shrubs at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo. The opportunities are endless!


Employees are encouraged by our senior management team to use their VTO in a way that is meaningful to them.  In a recent tweet, NetApp Vice Chairman Tom Mendoza wrote: “One of the benefits here is that every employee gets one week off if they work for a charity. Any charity they want. So rather than us pick what you're passionate about, you be passionate about something. Whatever it is, just reach your hand out and help somebody."