Employers urged to let staff take time off to volunteer

Companies that are are serious about improving their record on corporate social responsibility should pay their employees to take time off so they can volunteer, according to researchers.

Volunteering England’s Institute for Volunteering Research and the National Centre for Social Research found that 50 per cent of employees questioned about their organisations’ volunteering schemes said that having paid time off would encourage them a lot to participate “a lot”. Almost half – 42 per cent – said they would feel more motivated if offered a wider range of volunteering opportunities.

The proportion of employees with access to employer-supported volunteer schemes has increased from 16 per cent 10 years ago to 36 per cent today. However, the proportion of employees taking up the scheme has remained steady at 29 per cent.

“It is very encouraging to see such a significant increase in the number of employees with access to employer-supported volunteer schemes,” said Cathy McBain, head of employer-supported volunteering at Volunteering England and an author of the report. “But employers must address the barriers of limited time and narrow activity options if they are to increase take-up.”

The results of the research will be published at Volunteering England’s Employer Supported Volunteering Symposium, which is taking place in London on 13 February and is supported by the Ashridge Centre for Business and Society, part of Ashridge Business School.

Inge Woudstra-Van Grondelle, principal researcher at the centre, said: “Businesses and voluntary organisations will get more benefits from corporate volunteering by entering into long-term relationships rather than one-off, ad hoc activities.”

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