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SMEs can save money and improve performance through volunteering

Written by Dara Jegede on Wednesday, 14 May 2014. Posted in Engagement, People

Volunteering is a cost-effective way for businesses to upskill and retain staff according to new report by think tank Demos

SMEs can save money and improve performance through volunteering

For those who share the same philosophy as author Elizabeth Berg that there is incredible value in being of service to others, but find no time to volunteer between their 9-5 schedules, change might be on the horizon. But only if those in charge take heed.

Demos, the think tank and research institute, is flying the flag for volunteering enthusiasts and urging bosses to give employees time off for good deeds including mentoring pupils to improve their literacy, organising community sports events or giving careers advice at nearby schools. And many are keen to get involved, with a recent poll revealing that 58% of employees are likely to volunteer if they receive support from their employer.

It’s all well and good giving up time to make the world a better place (a better world does exist beyond the Metro’s Good Deed Feed),  but the response from a business owner, understandably, might be ‘well, what’s in it for me’? The answer, it would seem, is plenty. According to a report released by Demos this week, partaking in ‘skills-based volunteering’, i.e. an accountant doing the books for a charity and additional volunteering, can improve job performance and boost soft skills such as communication, leadership and organisation.

A poll within the report shows that 61% of employees agreed volunteering experience made them perform better in their job whilst two-thirds (66%) saw a noticeable improvement in their communication skills, with negotiating (45%), team-working (43%) and leadership skills (41%) also enjoying a timely boost. 

And that’s not all. Demos highlight that the gobsmacking £40bn yearly spend on training can be substituted with running a volunteer program for an average of £381.10 a year. Several business leaders who were interviewed as part of the project agreed that employer volunteering schemes were a much more cost-effective way of upskilling their workforce and retaining staff than expensive training courses.

"Getting more staff to volunteer is a triple-win for businesses,” said Jonathan Birdwell, author of the report and head of the Citizenship Programme at Demos. “Employers gain workers that are more skilled, productive and loyal without having to pay out for expensive training courses. Employees gain new skills and the satisfaction of making a difference in their community.  And by encouraging their employees to work with young people, businesses unlock the potential of the next generation of workers.” 

About the Author

Dara Jegede

Dara Jegede

Jegede recently left the London School of Journalism having previously embarked on a soul-searching stint in the city of love. That's Paris, by the way.

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