Volunteering brings a feel-good factor to the people taking part, as well as the obvious boost it offers to those who benefit from their efforts. But what is less widely acknowledged is the fact that volunteering is good for business, as well as the people who make it work.
We’ve distilled the benefits of voluntary work down to five distinct ways in which employers can prosper by giving their staff the chance to take some time out to help:
Volunteering is a true ‘sharpening the saw’ activity - you go away and come back better, sharper and more energised.Phil Bayles – Aviva’s Sponsor of Volunteering Week
1 Motivation is infectious
It’s often said that a well-motivated workforce is a productive workforce – and giving employees the chance to refocus their efforts to achieve something beyond their normal roles is an excellent way to raise morale.
Many will experience a burst of enthusiasm from supporting a cause which they believe in… but this isn’t all. Not only will their renewed motivation carry through to workplace, it will also rub off on those who haven’t volunteered. Even non-participants can find themselves invigorated by the fresh sense of purpose displayed by those around them.
2 Volunteering helps build resilience
At Aviva, we found that 96% of our volunteers felt that their action had increased their level of wellbeing.
Whether we’re talking about the physical effect of a day’s gardening or DIY, or the emotional boost that helping others can bring, volunteering can do all of us a power of good.
Ultimately, improving wellbeing leads to a more resilient, healthier workforce – with business standing to reap the benefit of an eventual reduction in absenteeism and presenteeism (‘struggling by’ unproductively at work when unfit to be there).
3 Employees pick up new skills
87% of Aviva participants agreed that volunteering helped their personal development
We’re not saying that every employer will enjoy practical benefit by having its employees dust up their gardening skills or fine-tune their DIY abilities. Yes, some skills which they may build while volunteering will be directly transferable to the workplace – but of far greater significance is the improvement in personal development which may come from the new challenges they take on.
Those involved in mentoring may find they have an aptitude for training, for example. Others will simply gain the confidence to think on their feet more effectively or find that they’re better than they thought at organising others. You could get back a better employee than the one you sent out.
4 Cost-effective team-building
94% of Aviva’s volunteers agree that volunteering has a positive impact on how they and their team behave
Some of us have paid good money for exercises aimed at improving team spirit by throwing employees together to solve problems through collaboration. Volunteering accurately reproduces this scenario without the expense – and helping good causes engenders a greater sense of purpose than building a bridge out of plastic blocks or launching an imaginary product.
5 Enhancing reputations
Aviva staff who have volunteered score 5 points higher on the statement ‘I would recommend Aviva to family and friends as a great place to work’,
Providing willing volunteers to help a good cause, be it local or national, can only enhance a company’s standing in the eyes of its neighbours and potential customers. And this holds true for the organisation’s reputation as a good employer, too – often boosted by the advocacy of those who have volunteered. This makes it easier to recruit and retain the best people. Everyone wants to work for a caring, socially aware employer.
Your employees can volunteer at any time of the year – there really is no limit to the opportunities available. And by embedding volunteering in your company’s culture, a lot of people stand to benefit… and so does your business. So is it time to encourage your employees to put their hands up?