We’re approaching the season of goodwill, which means that many businesses will be turning their attention to volunteering initiatives for their staff.
Pre-empting this, the CIPD and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) have launched a joint study into employer-supported volunteering (ESV). The aim of the study is to identify how ESV schemes can be more beneficial for both parties.
At the launch of the study the CIPD declared that two-thirds of employees (65%) preferred to work for organisations that support volunteering. However, the study also found that the benefits of ESV schemes are negated by a lack of planning between businesses and charities and a misalignment of goals. For example, some companies were unwilling to contribute to the costs of a charity hosting volunteers, whilst some charities failed to recognise the attached value of a one-off placement (such as the potential for ongoing sponsorship).
Several charities reported that skilled volunteers would be of the biggest benefit to them. The study found though that people are less likely to volunteer in a professional capacity than they are for unskilled tasks, such as manual labour.
There are more incentives for a business to consider setting up an ESV scheme than just employee retention. The CIPD found that 81% of employees who had taken part in volunteering initiatives reported an increased sense of community awareness. 59% reported an increase in confidence, whilst 65% felt that they had improved their communications skills.
Justin Davis Smith, executive director of volunteering at NCVO, said: “ESV could potentially offer huge benefits for the voluntary sector and businesses alike. However, this research shows that without clear communication around expectations and the resources involved, many of those benefits could be lost.”
“We need to recognise that volunteering isn’t free – there is a cost to the charity in terms of staff time, resources and supervision. Yet the right kind of volunteering could outweigh those costs tenfold.”
If you are not already running a volunteering scheme you may not think it is a priority for your business right now. However, with 61% of UK employers supporting volunteering initiatives it may be something that you want to consider in the near future for attracting and retaining talent.