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Volunteering: The business benefits

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Have you ever thought about giving your employees paid time off to volunteer in your local community? According to research commissioned by BITC, it’s unlikely, as only 15% of employees say they are given the opportunity to take part in community activities by their employer.

Why offer your employees the chance to volunteer?

It’s easy to understand the reasoning: why would you pay your workforce to lend a hand elsewhere instead of helping your business reach its own goals? If anything, it seems like the last thing you’d want to do.

But hold on. According to former BITC chief executive, Stephen Howard, businesses are missing out on the benefits that can come from empowering their employees to make a difference by volunteering. He said: “Employee volunteering is a win-win: the experience builds skills and motivates employees, while helping meet community needs.”

Indeed, there are very powerful statistics to back up these comments. Employee Volunteering has found that:

  • 97% of volunteers said that it helps to develop a strong team;
  • 95% felt that volunteering had a positive influence on them;
  • 76% said it had a positive influence on how they feel about their employer;
  • 88% felt that volunteering improved their understanding of issues affecting their community; and
  • 98% rated their enjoyment of volunteering as “excellent” or “good”.

Employee benefits

By allowing your employees to engage in volunteering activities within their local community, in areas that are close to their heart, it can help to improve their morale, pride and loyalty to your business.

In addition, as they immerse themselves in new activities, it can help them to develop a range of skills that are useful in the workplace, such as leadership, team building, problem solving, and so on.

Of course, not everyone may want to get involved, and that’s fine. Make sure that you give everyone the opportunity to volunteer if they want, but make it clear that’s it’s entirely up to them if they want to participate or not.

Business benefits

There are also significant advantages to be had for your business from volunteering. Firstly, you could improve employee recruitment and retention as you demonstrate your commitment to community investment and employee development.

Next, your business reputation could also be enhanced, improving profitability. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a major factor in the business landscape, and many customers actively seek out businesses that give something back to their community.

Employee volunteering can forge lasting relationships through collaboration with other businesses, engages companies and suppliers and can increase a company’s chances in tendering processes.

Community benefits

Of course, the biggest impact of volunteering will be felt at the ground level, within the communities that receive help and support from your employees.

Whether it’s local schools, youth clubs, charities or other groups, any community organisation will be extremely thankful for any volunteering that your business can offer.

In a time of austerity and budget cuts, public sector funding is struggling, and any help can make a massive difference to important services the country over.

Volunteering doesn’t have to be just painting fences and planting trees, your employees could use their day-to-day skills to support good causes. For instance, a web designer could build a new site for a charity.

Give & Gain Day

BITC released its findings to coincide with the launch of Give & Gain Day. The annual campaign encourages businesses and their employees to spend a working day helping good causes in their local community, doing everything from delivering employability workshops and CV training for the long-term unemployed to supporting school sports days.

Of those that took part in employee volunteering through Give & Gain Day:

  • 87% reported an improved perception of their employer;
  • 82% reported feeling more committed to their employer;
  • 70% of employee volunteers reported developing their time management, communication, influencing, decision-making and leadership skills;
  • 81% of community partners had an improved perception of the employer they worked with; and
  • 99% would recommend the company to others.

If you think that your business could benefit from giving your employees volunteering opportunities, then Give & Gain Day could be an excellent way to start.

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