Aussie companies urged to get more employees volunteering
19 July 2019 at 5:05 pm
The time corporates spend volunteering has not seen significant growth over the past decade despite increasing recognition of the value to employees and businesses, a new report says.
Analysis from Volunteering Australia and LBG Corporate Citizenship found 15 per cent of employees participated in volunteering in 2018 – up from 3.7 per cent in 2006 – and contributed more than one million hours of service to the community.
Even though 78 per cent of Australian companies now have a volunteering program in place, the report said there was still much work to be done.
“While participation levels in volunteering have risen steadily since 2006, the percentage of a company’s total spend in time… has not altered significantly in over 10 years of reporting,” it said.
Australian companies reporting to LBG in 2018 reported 263,236 employees in their collective workforce.
The report said assuming each employee has one day a year to volunteer, this equates to more than 1,000 full-time equivalent staff for a year that were available to community organisations.
But currently only half of this volunteering capacity is being utilised.
Volunteering Australia’s CEO Adrienne Picone told Pro Bono News the sector must continue to push the corporate volunteering message to a wider employee base within businesses.
Picone said companies should offer employees different ways to get involved in volunteering, whether it’s team-based, skills-based or micro-volunteering.
She highlighted a number of issues holding corporate volunteering back in Australia.
“The key barriers that inhibit corporate volunteering growing come down to resources, finding time to volunteer in a busy workload, and managing volunteering opportunities,” Picone said.
“Across the country the state and territory volunteering peak bodies are working with community organisations to find ways that corporate Australia can contribute their time.”
The report said the volunteering benefits for employees – such as providing a sense of purpose, offering learning opportunities, and promoting connection with others – were well recognised.
It said companies also benefited from giving their workers volunteering opportunities, with employees that volunteer found to be more loyal towards the business and more engaged in their work.
Corporate Citizenship’s Australian director, Simon Robinson, said volunteering could be more integrated into a company’s corporate citizenship strategy, so its real value to the business and the community was realised.
Robinson told Pro Bono News that average participation rates for corporate volunteering appear to have plateaued at around 15 per cent over the past four years.
He said many companies could do more to promote volunteering in the workplace, with employee awareness cited as one reason participation rates remained where they were.
“Personally, I would like to see more innovation in this space… such as employees being able to give their volunteer hours to a colleague if they don’t want to use them,” Robinson said.
“You don’t see many companies linking professional training and development with volunteering – that could be a way of raising the level above 15 per cent.”
Robinson added there could be value in presenting volunteering to employees in a different way.
“Volunteering could be presented as key opportunity for people to develop their personal and professional skills, as opposed as something just to use up their leave day,” he said.
“Perhaps it can even be called something else, [with] the term volunteering immediately placing the concept in a certain box in people’s minds.”