Volunteering - Good for Business Skills
27 April 2010 at 5:18 pm
UK research on corporate volunteering has found a majority of participants developed both their business and personal skills.
The City of London Corporation commissioned consultants, Corporate Citizenship to undertake research to examine the skills and competencies employees can develop through active participation in employer supported volunteering programs in education.
The aim of the research was to investigate the real business benefits that derive from a well-managed volunteering program.
The researchers say their work breaks new ground by moving beyond the body of evidence showing that employees feel more positively about their employer if they perceive them to be socially responsible to examine the financial value to the business of the skills and competencies developed through volunteering.
The research study draws on the experience of employees in 16 businesses operating in the City of London and to track the learning and development experienced by 546 volunteers who support students and staff in schools and colleges across the UK.
The majority of respondents report that volunteering has developed their skills and competencies across a broad range of business relevant areas.
The majority of volunteers reported skills development in the following areas that could be considered to be strongly related to their individual or personal effectiveness.
- Communication skills (66% of respondents asserted that their skills had undergone some development or significant development in this area)
- Their ability to help others (65%)
- Adaptability (54%)
- Influencing / negotiating skills (45%).
- Team working (43%)
- Leadership skills (41%)
- Willingness to continually improve (41%)
- Planning and organisation (40%)
- Decision making (39%)
- Problem solving (39%)
- Ability to build relationships and networks (39%).
The report says these skills and competencies developed through volunteering have a direct relevance to the companies involved.
The research found that the experiential nature of the learning achieved by the volunteers makes it hugely valuable in the skills development process and sets it apart from more traditional approaches to training.
Respondents report that moving outside their “comfort zone” was extremely useful in both developing their skills and transferring these skills back into the workplace.
However, the report says if companies are to harness the power of volunteering as a route to learning and development, they need to manage the process properly.
This research underlines the importance of integrating volunteering activities into mainstream HR processes of appraisal and development.
The report concludes that volunteering programs can be delivered for relatively modest costs. Overall, the research found that among respondent businesses the average annual cost to support each volunteer involved in an education based activity in London is £381 ($AUD636) per person per annum.
This figure includes the full cost including direct management costs and all additional costs (for example, transport expenses, time out of the office, volunteering budgets, training etc) involved in running an effective volunteering program.
The PDF Report is attached.