What’s Up With Corporate Volunteering in Tasmania?
Wednesday, 13th December 2017 at 3:45 pm
New research in Tasmania shows a low but growing interest from local businesses in implementing programs that encourage their employees to volunteer during work hours.
Corporate volunteering is a relatively new concept in Tasmania, and whilst the Corporate Volunteering in Tasmania Report 2017 found a range of different programs in place, all businesses reported positive benefits for their organisations, their employees and the for-purpose community organisations they engaged with.
Volunteering Tasmania CEO Alison Lai told Pro Bono News the island state was taking “baby steps” in terms of moving from the more traditional forms of corporate volunteering, but there were genuine signs of increasing interest from businesses large and small.
“Only a small number of corporate organisations who participated in the research had well developed corporate volunteering programs or policies,” Lai said.
“There were different interests across corporate organisations and a variety of structures in place. The majority of corporate organisations were interested in volunteering as team opportunities – often for short periods of time such as one off events, or one day activities. However, a number of corporates offered both individual opportunities and team events.
“Many were still exploring their programs, and how they could meet the needs of the organisation, its employees and the community.”
Lai said many business were becoming aware of the advantages for their operations by providing volunteer opportunities at work.
“One example of a corporate using volunteering as a means of staff retention is Hydro Tasmania which is taking the wonderful extreme of seeing corporate volunteering as a professional development opportunity,” Lai said.
“Another outlier is a Tasmanian banking group called MyState which is looking at team participation.”
The report found that the benefits of corporate volunteering included:
- positive growth of the brand and reputation of the organisation in the wider community;
- improved employee engagement;
- higher employee job satisfaction;
- better employee retention rates;
- cost effective training and development; and
- recruitment advantages in a competitive marketplace – particularly for younger employees seeking roles with a social purpose
The research also identified benefits for the small number of for-purpose organisations involved in these programs, in particular the opportunity to access the skills that corporate volunteers bring into their teams.
It found that with 96 per cent of employees interviewed demonstrating a desire to engage in a corporate volunteering program, the number of programs across Tasmania was anticipated to significantly increase.
The report also looked at volunteer involving organisations (VIOs).
“ Volunteer involving organisations felt under resourced to set up corporate volunteering opportunities,” the report said.
VIOs revealed that there was interest in the potential of corporate volunteers, however most were unsure about how corporate volunteering could work in practice.
They noted the cost and expense of setting up volunteering opportunities to match the needs of corporate organisations.
Some also noted the lack of capability within their organisations to create new programs, induct and host employees, and establish appropriate processes and procedures (eg insurance and compliance concerns).
However, despite these challenges, the report found that “many felt that if they could find the capacity within their organisation to invest in this, then the benefits would be worth the effort and costs”.
As a result of the findings Volunteering Tasmania recommended the development and dissemination of resources and programs to build support for corporate volunteering, and to better equip all parties to participate in this model of volunteering.