It has been claimed by a 2017 Cascade survey, that allowing your employees to volunteer during their working hours is the route to workplace happiness and a more engaged workforce. This is quite a strong statement so what does it really mean?
We are leaning towards a more modern workplace and employers need to start thinking about the millennials that are making up their current workforce. Millennials have a strong sense of responsibility, a healthy work-life balance and have socially liberal views. Millennials have a different agenda and different motivations to generation X; they are aware of their social footprint and expect their employer to be too. An annual charitable donation or a bake sale will no longer suffice.
If you want to take volunteering for your business seriously and meet the needs of your millennials, then you need to ensure that social responsibility is part of everything you do which is reflected in your culture. This is not a tick-box exercise or one person’s area, it should be taken seriously at each level. If employees see senior members of staff being involved they are more likely to buy into it themselves. If your employees see that you are supporting their voluntary and charitable work with limited unpaid/ paid time off the employee will hopefully believe that you are trying to support their objectives and bring about meaningful change to your culture and your community.
Volunteering can improve leadership and team work skills and increase staff retention levels and attracting new talent. It can also raise your own profile, image and reputation in the community, help you improve the area in which you’re based. Skills that are learnt while volunteering can develop employees personally and professionally which will also benefit their work and your business.
The sorts of volunteering we are describing here are not just community projects like painting a shed or helping in the allotment, they vary between short and long-term opportunities. For example, career talks or delivering workshops in schools and sponsoring a local event such as a business lunch or local running event. Longer term opportunities cover mentoring, school governors and charity trustees… although this list is not exhaustive!
Employer supported volunteering can have an immense impact on how people perceive a business if you’re present or seen to be supporting these events which also give you an opportunity to network too. It isn’t completely selfless; this can be extremely powerful when it comes to driving business growth, marketing your business to customers and potential employees and retaining existing talent.