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 the FTSEs. 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 morale. The icing on the cake is the double benefit of volunteering upon skills development -a 2014 CIPD report showed this ‘double benefit’ of volunteering, and identified ten key skills and behaviours that it developed including coaching and mentoring, confidence, communication, team-building, 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, 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, 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 medium-sized businesses 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 of volunteering a year, 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? Talk to me today about how you can build an innovative employee engagement strategy for your business