Education and Employers along with the CIPD have released new research to highlight the benefits of undertaking volunteering. Employees who did take part in this felt their communication skills had improved along with their motivation levels and sense of purpose at work.

A new report by the Education and Employers, a charity which works to improve the lives of young children and people, and the CIPD shows the various advantages of benefits for the workplace.

Volunteering has consistently been framed as a way of giving back to the community and many have chosen to undertake volunteering, even through an online means, during lockdown. However, this report identifies the many ways in which volunteering can be mutually beneficial.

The report reveals that employers who encouraged staff to volunteer in schools and colleges have experienced their employees showing more motivation, higher levels of productivity and have a better sense of well-being.

Using data from employees who took on volunteering activities, four in five (80 per cent) workers reported benefits for communication, influencing and relationship skills. Furthermore, over half said the volunteering allowed them to improve their leadership and decision-making.

When looking at motivation and mission, the same number of employees (80 per cent) expressed improvements in their sense of mission at work as a result of volunteering in education. Over two-thirds (68 per cent) reported greater levels of motivation at work.

Finally, over a quarter of respondents (26 per cent) felt more productive whilst working and just under half (44 per cent) stated that their manager recognised their efforts for the impact of volunteering.

It also encouraged employees to understand the world around them, outside of the workplace. Over 94 per cent of employees described gaining a better sense of society and its issues through volunteering, illustrating that volunteering can ultimately help with diversity of thought which is essential for the workplace.

According to the report, employers and HR teams are most influential forces to encourage employees to undertake volunteering. It further states that volunteering should be integrated into a company’s core values with it becoming a “part of regular conversations across an organisation, relevant to training and development, team building and brand awareness, as well as reflecting CSR objectives”.

It states that the best way to introduce employees to volunteering initiatives is through:

  • Proactive facilitation: Employers more actively introduce volunteering opportunities.
  • Line manager recognition: Line managers support volunteering and recognise the benefits.
  • Integration into the culture: Employers manage the process of volunteering-as-skill development strategically, integrating volunteering into HR appraisal and staff development.

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, said:

The report highlights not only how this type of volunteering can help with developing critical employability skills for those that volunteer, but also how it can have a hugely positive impact on their mental wellbeing and motivation.

In the context of the pandemic with all the concerns of people’s wellbeing, this is more crucial than ever. From other CIPD research we can also see that the pandemic has increased people’s interest in volunteering and wanting to help others in these challenging times.

Having employers and managers who are supportive of their employees doing voluntary work has therefore never been more important. But it is also very important to make the case for the benefits they get in return, as time is precious and people are under significant pressure.

Overall, it’s clear to see from the research that employers who support their staff to take part in meaningful volunteering work will be rewarded with reinvigorated employees benefitting from improved skills and competencies. Furthermore, this will help in retaining people and becoming an employer of choice for the best talent in the future.

*This research was obtained from the Education and Employers and CIPD report published in January 2021 entitled ‘The Value of Volunteering: Volunteering in Education and Productivity at Work’.