The greatest gift you can give is time…

vol“You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time…” 

You have all probably heard this famous quote from Rick Warren a well-known philanthropist, but for this article I thought it apt to highlight…

Volunteering is exactly that you see, giving a person or organisation some of your time, with the hope you will in some way make a difference.  What a great gift to give, and one I feel which is hugely underrated!

In recent years, volunteering has been used as a tool for employee engagement and retainment; and a study by Volunteering Australia demonstrated that organisations which have volunteer programmes find it easier to recruit and retain good people, something most People/ HR professionals already know. A You Gov survey published in 2010 showed that managers who supported employee volunteering saw a 55% improvement in their employee retention; the report is backed by the Institute of Directors. You see, having an organisational volunteering program is so much more than just about employee retention… but in a competitive labour market improved employee retention is as good a reason as any for having one…

Increasingly more today than ever before, the younger workforce – the ‘gen Zers’ and millennial’s (I just about make it into this group!) – want their employers to provide workplace environments where they can achieve fulfilment, meaning and purpose.

According to Sage People, the usual perks such as gym memberships, health plans and bonus schemes are apparently not enough for these two generations. They’re looking for a more rewarding, engaging and meaningful workplace experience.  In fact, 53% of under-35s want to volunteer more than they do, with this figure increasing to 60% amongst 18-24-year-olds, according to a recent report by City Philanthropy. ‘

Aside from just being a great perk for colleagues, companies that offer paid time-off for volunteering can attract and retain  top talent, boost productivity, instil a sense of purpose and meaning in employees, and go some way to improving the employee engagement challenge.

What could companies gain from giving employees the gift of time?

1) Improved colleague retention

Research by Great Place to Work looked at thousands of employee surveys from companies on its 50 best Workplaces that Give Back list and revealed that workers at these organisations say they’re more likely to stay with their employer for a long time as a result of the company’s volunteer programs.

2) #LoveWhereYouWork

Employees at firms with volunteer days are proud to tell others where they work.

They’ll tweet, Facebook and also Instagram (other social media platforms are available…) about their paid-time off to volunteer. All of which further enhances the organisation’s perception in the community and raises the profile of the business, particularly amongst prospective employees.  For housing organisations, it also enables colleagues in feeling closer to our communities – the reason we are here and our social purpose.

3) Connected teams (through team days!)

When whole teams participate in a worthwhile activity for a good cause, even just for a day, a sense of teamwork is fostered. Pulling together for a common goal, especially when it’s for a charity or community project, enables employees to bond and support each other. Once built, this sense of teamwork can continue back in the workplace with a renewed sense of commitment to one another.

4) Developing people

Volunteering can enable employees to learn and develop new skills. Off-site projects with community organisations can open up a whole new skill-set for an employee, enabling them to try things they’ve never experienced before.  Learning a new skill adds to a person’s sense of worth, can boost their motivation, make them feel valuable and positively affect their overall wellbeing.

5) Uncovering aspiring leaders

Volunteer programs can be a great way for managers to see which team members might make future business leaders. A team volunteering day can be an ideal environment to discover who has a natural aptitude for leading and should be put on a fast-track for Leadership development.  At Aster, we have developed an element of our programme specifically enabling aspiring leaders to bid to lead community projects – this delivering both business and community impact!

6) Happier, healthier staff

Companies who offer volunteering days or schemes report a reduction in sick leave as employees want to work for a company that values them and gives back. They feel more satisfied, motivated, so staff morale is higher.  We haven’t yet tracked this at Aster but will look at this data and report back at a later date.  Let me know if there are any of you who have already!

So, who’s already doing it well (other than Aster of course)?

Apparently, Salesforce topped the 2017 annual World’s Best Workplaces list, due to cultivating pride in its employees and inspiring them through its ‘relentless commitment to community involvement’.  According to Great Place to Work, who compile the rankings, 97% of employees said they felt proud about the way Salesforce contributes to the community.

What about Aster?

At Aster, we believe in people power and are investing into a volunteering programme which delivers both business and community impact through investing in our communities where they need it the most; this through the Aster Foundation. The programme itself has been built in conjunction with partners across our communities and we are lucky enough to have some larger organisations become corporate partners of the programme.  This means, their employees will be investing their time and effort into improving our communities too – this because our values align.

We really want our people to have a fantastic colleague experience; from looking through the programme and guidance, the support and information given leading up to the volunteering opportunity and also engagement afterwards.  We are clear on how each opportunity drives strategy performance and have a matrix which sits behind the programme that allows us to see how the programme is delivering its impact for our colleagues, the business and our communities.  We launch this on July 30th 2019 and I look forward to sharing the results we collect on the difference we make through investing time into cultivating our people power!



Sources of information:
Great places to work benchmarking survey 






Published by cameronkinsella

I have worked to drive inclusivity and to reduce exclusion in many forms for 14 years. My personal story led me to where I am today and I passionately believe in giving others access to opportunities or a platform they can use to change their own lives. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did...but they will never forget the way you made them feel” ... so let’s make a world in which we enable people to feel like the best version of themselves!

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