Lend a hand – why workplace volunteering is a win-win

If I told you that approximately 70% of FTSE 100 companies have a volunteering programme, would you be surprised?

Corporate volunteer activity days, giving employees time off to volunteer in their local communities, and sponsorship matching are just three examples of popular schemes adopted by some of the top FTSE companies. Waitrose, for example, donate some 75,000 paid employee hours a year to volunteering. So, there must be a really compelling reason why our biggest and most successful corporates do this . . .

After all, they have budgets and performance targets like the rest of us.  So how do they justify this ‘charitable’ financial commitment to their returns-hungry shareholders?  Because they know that engaged employees make better employees!

The most successful organisations’ are always seeking competitive edge, and they know that good employee engagement directly correlates with better productivity, superior recruitment and retention and better staff well-being. So, as we enter Mental Health Awareness week from the 10th-16th May, wouldn’t it be great to talk to your team and see what volunteering opportunities you could support as a business?  Maybe choose a local charity together that everyone believes in or has a connection to and start volunteering for them or raising money for something they need as a charity.

We practice what we preach, as Meraki HR have chosen to work with Sobell House again this year as our chosen charity and last year we raised almost £4,000 doing a virtual Lands End to John O’Groats event. It was a great thing for us to do as a team and really lifted our spirits when we were in lockdown last year. The fact that we have raised so much money for a great cause also boosted our wellbeing!

The icing on the cake though is the double benefit of volunteering upon skills development – a 2020 CIPD report showed this ‘double benefit’ of volunteering and identified ten key skills and behaviours that it helped develop which included coaching and mentoring, confidence, communication, teambuilding, self-awareness and creativity.

So, couple all of this with the obvious philanthropic aspects of giving back to your local community – building a positive local reputational brand and credibility for your business, as well as strengthening local connections – and you have your ‘win-win’.

When it comes to HR for small business, managers often neglect the philanthropic aspect of the job. Maybe you thought giving back only benefits the community — maybe you never realised it encourages employee engagement and supports employee wellbeing too, thus boosting your business growth. Or perhaps you were under the impression that giving back, and volunteering aren’t effective HR solutions.

So, what’s the catch? If it’s such a no brainer, why are currently only about 20% of SME’s currently embracing volunteering with gusto?

It is a particular challenge with small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). With a small workforce compared with the giants like Waitrose, accommodating paid days off for volunteering, can be a costly and logistical nightmare and therefore often proves too tall an order.

But there are ways to be smart about it, such as incorporating a community volunteer activity into a company team building day for example. And clued-up local charities are more than keen to reciprocate; by in return offering to organise your event and provide highly engaging volunteer activities which provide wide opportunities for personal and professional growth and development.

So, are you convinced that volunteer or giving opportunities might a good idea for your organisation? Then why not talk to us over a cuppa about how we can get creative and help to build an innovative employee engagement strategy for your business.

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