A constant topic of conversation here at Realized Worth revolves around the impact strategic employee volunteering programs have on businesses; how the link to employee engagement is undeniable. We discuss the effect these programs have on communities, and the strength of their impact on those communities. But … when it comes down to the impact on the individual, there wasn’t much to talk about. There has been little evidence on how employee volunteering programs build the skills of the employees themselves. Until now.

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By Corey Diamond

The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development – more commonly known as CIPD – is a UK-based professional body for HR and people development. With over 130,000 members internationally, CIPD acts as a resource and training body for the profession. Its landmark report, published earlier this month, makes a strong link between volunteering and skills development; and while there have been a number of research reports over the years on this topic, none have featured case studies and empirical evidence of more than 20 companies and charities. The guts of the research is a thoughtful top ten list of the most common skills employees gain from volunteering, including:

    1. Community Awareness
    2. Confidence
    3. Coaching and Mentoring
    4. Communication
    5. Networking and Relationship Building
    6. Team Building
    7. Enhancing Your Professional Knowledge
    8. Self Awareness and Reinforcing Skills
    9. Workload Management
    10. Creativity

The list is backed up by actual experience from companies such as National Grid, Nationwide, Marks and Spencer and others. Wendy Tomlinson of Linklaters articulates the link perfectly:

I think increasingly we recognize that learning is not just about attending formal training programs, or taking part in formal e-learning or different learning technologies, but also is what they are driving themselves, through their own personal motivations or development … Volunteering in supporting other people is all a very rich learning experience, and I think adds to the collective sense of people learning through doing.

National Grid looks at skills development as part of every volunteer opportunity it promotes to its employees. Kate Van Der Plank explains:

All of our jobs have a defined competency matrix which includes levels of skill from foundation to advanced; so for the particular role that you’re currently in, or if there is a role you are aspiring to, you can have a look through the Hub and see the different community programs you can do that could help you get to that skill level.

The report is more evidence of the growing trend of employee volunteering programs and HR functions. As your program evolves, the extent to which you can integrate it into core business functions will be key to its expansion and success. Engaging HR through a learning and development lens is an excellent way to make that happen. And look no further than this great research to help with your initial conversations internally. We’d love to hear how those conversations go. Drop us a line via contact@realizedworth.com, connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or leave a comment below and tell us how it went.

COREY RW PIC EDITED

Corey Diamond
Partner, Business Operations
coreydiamond@realizedworth.com
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