So, your company has invested in a corporate volunteering scheme. And they are offering staff the opportunity to volunteer during paid work hours. Brilliant! But why should your people be interested?
Benefits of corporate volunteering
There are many reasons why a person might choose to volunteer their time to help others.
For some it’s a valuable way to gain experience and boost their CV. For others it’s a way to give back to their community or a chance to contribute towards an issue that has affected them deeply in their lives.
So, it’s important for your team to consider their own motivations, when deciding if volunteering is right for them.
A lot has been written about the benefits to businesses of implementing corporate volunteering schemes. But significantly less has been said about the benefits of these schemes to employees. Yet the numerous benefits of volunteering have been proven time and time again by multiple studies.
Aside from some of the obvious benefits, such as a sense of accomplishment from giving back to society and contributing to a cause you feel passionate about, volunteering can also have some unexpected advantages, like significant improvements to physical and mental health.
A CNCS report on the health benefits of volunteering found a strong relationship between volunteering and health:
“those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life, than those who do not volunteer”.
It has also been suggested that volunteering can affect happiness levels; 94% of people who volunteer report that it improves their mood. Studies have also shown that working with others (including working with animals) can help to counteract the effects of stress, anger and anxiety.
As well as improving a person’s mental and physical health, volunteering comes with a whole host of other benefits. But, as with anything, it is up to the volunteer to make the most of their experience.
Keep up with a hobby
Some people consider volunteering a good opportunity to make time for a hobby outside of work. Perhaps…
- you enjoy cooking and can assist with classes at a local food bank,
- gardening enthusiasts could consider helping out at community centre garden spaces
- those with a love for animals could get involved with a local shelter
- sports fanatics could coach a local youth club team
- photographers could volunteer at local events to capture the day and create more promotional material for the charity
- musicians could play a set at a charity event or host group lessons in a community centre
Lend your skills
Similarly, it is a chance to utilise skills that you already have, or to keep up with a skill that you are perhaps not getting the chance to use within your work environment.
Lending your expertise to others is an easy way to get involved with volunteering and can be hugely rewarding.
Conversely, for some employees, a volunteering position outside of work could be a great opportunity to build confidence in an area they want to develop. This could, in turn, benefit their career.
It could be a chance to learn a new skill or gain a new qualification, as some volunteering posts require a level of training before you can start the job. Some might even want to consider it as a networking opportunity, as you are essentially opening yourself up to a whole new sector and making connections which might become useful in the future.
As with any job, it is important that you support your staff to understand their goals and motivations before encouraging them into a volunteering post. Be realistic about the time you are willing – or able – to give your employees for this role.
People are more likely to stick with a position that fits easily into their schedule, even if it means they can only contribute a couple of hours every month.
You may even want to consider the possibility of virtual volunteering, where people can volunteer their skills without stepping away from their desks. Nowadays, taking on a volunteering role doesn’t have to mean an extra strain on an already busy schedule.
Think about the reasons why your staff might want to volunteer:
- What do they hope to get out of the experience?
- What skills or experience can they offer?
It is a good idea to consider the type of role they want to get involved with. That could mean working in a team environment or independently, or they may want to learn a new skill or work in an area in which they are already confident.
Being honest with your team about setting their goals and expectations is the first step towards finding an organisation that aligns with their beliefs and suits their need. This will transform your team’s volunteering experience from what could be a potential chore, to a fulfilling and mutually beneficial investment.
Now that you’ve heard a little more about the benefits, how will you get involved with employee supported volunteering?
Written by Betty Henderson