Back to the previous page

What’s on in the Global Pro Bono Network ? Transformative Impact and Corporate Volunteering Forum hosted by VSO and IAVE02/05/2019

Randstad and VSO speaking at a conference in Canary Wharf

Eight ways corporate volunteering benefits business !

On April 10th-11th, the Transformative Impact corporate volunteering conference was held in London, hosted by Credit Suisse, GPBN member VSO and IAVE, and sponsored by Department for International Development and UPS, to learn how volunteering could boost retention, innovation and productivity. Here are the main takeaways on why corporate volunteering benefits businesses :

1) It improves recruitment and retention

Creating a workplace that allows employees to find pride in the company and the work they do helps keep them. In the long run, this serves as a benefit for the firm who can help save costs associated with replacing an employee. Volunteer programs can also help recruitment by increasing the attraction of a business for potential employees. Gib Bulloch, former business consultant and initiator of Accenture’s Development Programme says “People don’t just want money, but meaning in their careers”

2) It increases productivity 

Tom Levitt, former Labour MP and author, found through research that there was a statistical relationship between lost productivity and reduced employee engagement in the UK. He said: “Anything that motivates employees to be more engaged, to be more loyal and take less time off sick is going to increase productivity.”

3) It promotes mental health

Volunteering “benefits the wellness of people” especially in organisations where staff are often burnt out or “bored out” through a macho culture of working long hours and being seen to play hard. Absenteeism is an issue but so is “presenteeism” – people turning up at work but not being really present. Giving employees an opportunity to work on another short-term project can help them find perspective.

4) It drives innovation to help tackle worldwide issues

A strategic partnership between a business and a volunteer organisation that’s closely aligned, like the one between recruitment experts Randstad and VSO, can create new ideas. Dawn Hoyle, VSO’s country manager in Tanzania, says:“When you bring together highly trained volunteers and local people to tackle a problem, great things happen. We can then replicate this innovation in other countries or situations.” Different business models like volunteer programmes can also treat the United Nation’s strategic development goals as new business opportunities. How can our work help to nourish, educate and provide clean water and energy to more and more people, as well as financial services and sanitation?

5) It proves purpose.

The Global Citizen Programme provides opportunities for employees to go abroad, whilst the Board Connect volunteer programme at Credit Suisse places experienced staff onto the boards of local NGOs and, according to Eva Halper, Director of Corporate Citizenship at Credit Suisse: “Among other things – it demonstrates our values.” One of which, according to their website, is: “to give employees the opportunity to gain new experience by working abroad or in different business areas as part of their professional and personal development.”

6) It meets personal development goals

Placing individuals out of their comfort zone teaches them new skills. Sana Ali from the healthcare organisation MSD, volunteered for the Infectious Diseases Research Institute for three months, and said: “How has volunteering changed me? Well, now I respond to challenges and stressful situations in a much calmer, more composed way because I’m not so limited by resources or capacity . We get caught up with the idea of meeting our team’s KPIs or performance objectives but now I have more meaning.”

7) It invests in social impact

At Spanish bank, La Caixa, social impact is one of the six performance goals to which each employee commits. The other five are related to revenue. To gain their annual bonus, staff are tasked with taking part in activities that also benefit local society.

8) It improves employment prospects for young people

Mentoring programmes, internships, apprenticeships and placements run by volunteers act as a vehicle for social mobility. The Bank of America Merrill Lynch helped to found the Ada, the National College of Digital Skills in Tottenham, London. This is the first new Further Education college in the UK for 23 years, which aims to help plug the digital skills gap at a time when there is 11.5% unemployment amongst 16 to 25-year-olds in the UK.

For more information on what happened at the Transformative Impact corporate volunteering conference, click here

Who is VSO member of the Global Pro Bono Network  ? Since 1958 VSO has brought people together through volunteering for development, a uniquely effective way of tackling poverty and marginalization through volunteers who live and work in the poorest communities. VSO works with national, international, youth, corporate, short and long term volunteers to deliver positive change through education, health and livelihoods programmes. In 2018 VSO worked in 24 countries with over 7000 volunteers, reaching over 1,500,000 people including people with disabilities, children and young people, and women and girls.