Charity at Work: The Value of Volunteering
Serviced office providers are a charitable bunch, as shown by the many stories on our blog that tell of gruelling long-distance running, death-defying aeroplane jumps or the somewhat more enjoyable office cake bake.
Business Environment, a leading office provider which owns and operates over one million sq ft of serviced space in the South of England, is one such organisation that regularly undertakes a variety of charity fundraisers, particularly for their main cause, Rays of Sunshine.
According to BE Managing Director David Saul (pictured below), companies of all shapes and sizes can benefit from employee volunteering.
“At Business Environment, we encourage our employees to support charities both in their local community and also those that have a personal connection to them,” he said, explaining that they allow their staff time within their normal working hours to do this.
“In fact, volunteering forms a crucial part of our company values; we firmly believe that we have a responsibility to our communities. Benefits are two-fold: firstly for the company directly and secondly on employees’ professional development, which also brings advantages to businessesΓÇÖ bottom line.”
David went on to explain that employee volunteering can improve brand visibility, as well as help to build and maintain corporate reputation.
“One of the companies that springs to mind when I think of charity work is Virgin. It contributes to a variety of charitable activities and its not-for-profit company, Virgin Giving Money, gets involved in hundreds of events to help raise money for causes ranging from human rights and health to sport and education. Its brand is ever-visible and it has developed a great corporate name for this work.”
For employees, David says that one of the main advantages is personal development, which is enhanced by the use of relevant business skills and competencies gained as a result of organising and participating in charity events.
Referring to research carried out recently by Corporate Citizenship, David said there is “compelling evidence” that community investment activities can “deliver real business returns in terms of reduced training and development costs”, and that through their various experiences, employees develop improved skills such as communication, coaching, adaptability, influencing and negotiating. According to David these are “all transferable skills for any business type, irrelevant of the size or sector.”
He believes that the skills help to increase job satisfaction, morale and a sense of pride, which in turn helps to boost staff retention.
“I think what’s important to remember when it comes to employee volunteering and corporate social responsibility is that it is not perceived as an ‘add-on’, which can be easily removed from business strategy in tough economic times,” he added. “Rather it should be part of the overall company mission and values, integral to how it plans and operates.
“Not only can businesses provide charities with financial support, but the advice and knowledge we can impart to them can also create positive change. And that has benefits not only for business, but for the entire community.”
Do you carry out fundraising activities at work? What type of events do you organise or participate in? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
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