The value of workplace volunteering

More companies than ever are offering employees paid volunteer leave, so why is volunteering reported to be at an all-time low?  A survey by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport found fewer of us than ever are volunteering, with 49% citing work commitments as the main barrier to people giving up their time. Bringing volunteering opportunities directly to the workplace is one way of overcoming this barrier; activities that require just a short amount of time and little to no preparation can help make volunteering more attractive to employees.

Volunteering schemes based in the workplace are growing in popularity as they provide easily accessible volunteering opportunities for employees. Workplace volunteering is often skills-based, meaning employees get to fully utilise their skills and experiences to support others whilst also reaping benefits themselves. Volunteering can enhance the skill set of volunteers making them more valuable as employees.  

Volunteering benefits

Volunteering is a chance to give back to local residents and the community, but it can be hard to know where to start to form these links. Partnering with a local organisation can be the answer to making these connections and forming lasting relationships with local people and causes.

Workplace volunteering schemes are a great way of bringing different teams and departments together and giving people a chance to get to know colleagues they don’t usually work with. This can be good for boosting team morale and pride and loyalty to the company. There are also benefits for individual volunteers: a study by Neighbourly found that employees that participate in workplace volunteering report being 13% happier than those that don’t.

Volunteering can help individuals improve their professional skills set, and is useful for employers to use as an alternative professional development tool that helps employees step out of their comfort zones. Giving careers talks or helping at insight days can help develop communication and organisation skills whilst volunteering as a mentor is an excellent way for employees to gain line management and leadership experience. 

Insurance company MS Amlin joined forces with The Brokerage in 2016 to create the award-winning JumpStart programme which introduces students to the world of insurance whilst also providing employees with development opportunities. The JumpStart programme won an award for Social Mobility Initiative of the year at the 2019 European Diversity awards.

JumpStart offers employees several volunteering opportunities, depending on the amount of time they have available to commit. Employees can volunteer to lead tours or interview students during a single insight day or can get involved on a greater level by mentoring a student over a period of three months and helping them develop skills relevant to the insurance sector. Mentees then complete a month’s work experience with the company; acting as a line manager for the students is yet another way for employees to volunteer their time and really make a difference to a young person’s future.

Rebecca Johnson, Assistant Underwriter at MS Amlin, and one of the founders of the JumpStart programme has the following to say on the benefits of mentoring:

“From a development perspective, it is useful for the mentors to have to explain what they do in simplistic language which an 18-year old can understand. In addition, there is a sense of wellbeing that can be gained from helping someone else. It is particularly rewarding for mentors when they are able to see their mentees develop. Furthermore, mentoring gives the volunteers an opportunity to meet new colleagues from across the business and raise their internal profile.”

The benefits of volunteering truly are immense; not only is it a great way to give back to others but is also an excellent form of professional development which leads to an improved sense of wellbeing. The question really isn’t why to volunteer, its ‘why not?’

If you’re a London employer and would like to speak to us about workplace volunteering opportunities, please contact [email protected]