By Max Clarke
Nearly 17m people in UK workforce would volunteer if their employer helped them to do so:
Nearly two thirds of UK employers have admitted they do not provide a good level of support for their employees to volunteer, according to a report released today by V, an independent charity at the forefront of volunteering. Despite strong demand from employees to engage more with their local communities, just over a third of business managers said they currently provide a good level of support, such as allocating staff a few hours a month to volunteer.
The YouGov research, commissioned by V, consists of responses from 1,512 employees and managers, suggests there is a strong appetite for employees to engage in volunteering programmes through their work, with 58% stating they would if their employer helped them to do so. Based on recent employment data from the Office of National Statistics, this percentage equates to 16.9m volunteers in the UK. Public sector employees (66%) were significantly more interested in volunteering compared to those in the private sector (56%). Women were also 14 percentage points more likely to engage in volunteering than men (66% vs. 52%).
The benefits of volunteering are widely known by employers, regardless of whether they have a dedicated volunteering programme or not. 96% of managers agreed certain workplace skills can be gained through volunteering, such as self-confidence, understanding of social and cultural issues and team work. In addition, two thirds of managers (63%) agreed that volunteering could have a positive impact on an individual’s career progression.
Yet while understanding the benefits, many organisations are ill equipped to offer volunteering opportunities to their staff. The reasons for this are down to more than just a lack of time and money. Many managers said that not knowing how to measure the benefits of volunteering was a barrier to encouraging employees to take part (38%), which in turn makes it hard to justify as a business case. Others felt that a lack of knowledge and capability within their organisation was a factor that limited volunteering opportunities (31%).
Terry Ryall, Chief Executive of V, commented: “Volunteering is fantastic way of enhancing an employee’s well-being while adding to the success of the business. However, there is increasingly a disconnect between the demand for volunteering and the ability of UK businesses to deliver. Businesses should be looking to embrace volunteering as a key component of their wider Corporate Social Responsibility strategy. Through our Volunteering Works programme, we are enabling businesses of all sizes to get on board and drive a workforce which exemplifies David Cameron’s vision of a Big Society.”
Miles Templeman, Director General at the Institute of Directors added, “It’s clear that in the current climate, many businesses simply can’t afford large-scale financial investment programmes to help communities — so allowing staff time off from work to do good is the ideal solution. Employee volunteering is now a major part of the corporate responsibility mix, enabling companies to leverage their most valuable assets — their staff — to address some of the most significant problems facing our society today.”
The report also suggests that managers of employees who volunteer are more likely to see how it can benefit the general success of the organisation, than those who don’t. This highlights the need for businesses to invest in volunteering in or order to understand and see all the benefits.