Should your business consider volunteer programs?

Volunteering is a vital part of helping society grow and assisting disadvantaged groups within a community. However, this can also be an important factor in workplace relations and employee engagement.

Aside from the moral benefits, what can companies gain from establishing a volunteering program in their own workplace?

Many workers enjoy giving back to community

A recent survey from Robert Half found that a relatively high number of people are already seeking opportunities to help their local communities. 

Of the business professionals questioned, 41 per cent stated they volunteer outside of work. In terms of demographics, males were more active than females, with 45 per cent of men participating, compared to 39 per cent of women. Although often toted as self-absorbed, 49 per cent of the younger generation (aged 18 to 34) volunteered their time, compared to 34 per cent of those aged 35 to 55.

Many workers are already active in the community.Many employees are already active in the community.

Senior Executive Director at Robert Half Paul McDonald highlighted the potential benefits that come with community action. 

"Managers may find that encouraging their employees to volunteer is a beneficial retention and recruitment tool," he explained. "Not only does it provide the gratification of giving back to the community, but it could open doors to a new professional opportunity or business connection."

Should your business establish a volunteering program?

Encouraging your workers to donate their time and effort to the community is not just an important consideration for corporate social responsibility efforts. Research from the University of Georgia found a strong link between volunteering and improved performance. Lead author Jessica Rodell attributed this to community work instilling a sense of purpose and meaningful, which boosts self esteem and morale in the workplace.

Businesses should carefully consider incorporating learning opportunities into volunteering initiatives.

In order to build a successful program, businesses should carefully consider the potential to incorporate learning opportunities into volunteering initiatives. A report from Deloitte highlighted that only 2 per cent of companies believe skill-based volunteering would increase their training expenses and a further 91 per cent believed they could lead to better skills development. 

Rather than participating in labour-intensive or low-skilled work, companies can offer more value by collaborating with non-profit organisations and providing specific skills and knowledge. For example, an accounting firm can offer budgeting advice to a non-profit and utilise this opportunity to gain useful staff experience.

By allowing senior leaders to head up their own volunteer projects, companies will not only contribute to worthy causes but can provide practical development opportunities. Seeking the help of HR consulting will ensure these programs are effective for all parties involved.