We hear a lot these days about corporate social responsibility. It's good - and a positive thing - that organisations are giving time to such matters - especially when money is tight and the demands of both the public and employees seem to be higher than ever. But the concept can be quite nebulous and meaningless sometimes to employees - and seem like more management speak than reality.
So my idea is about finding a way of linking rhetoric with reality - talk with walk - handouts to hands-on.
If my organisation says to me they are giving money to a specific charity - I think that's great - and it makes me feel good and warm inside that I work for an organisation with a charitable ethos. But if my organisation then says to me - and (as part of this commitment) we are allowing staff to take one day a month from their work time to spend a day working with the charity actually helping them to deliver their services - I think THAT'S GREAT. And not only does it make me feel good and warm inside - but I actually feel proud that I have made a small diffference. I feel valued by my organisation because they trust me enough to say "Go off and spend a day painting a community centre hall" or "Go off and spend a day with a group of children with learning disabilities by the seaside". And I feel valued by the people that I am volunteering with because charities need as much help as they can get - especially when money is tight and the demands from the public are higher than ever.
Win-win all round!
There seems to be a reluctance in organisations to consider allowing staff to make their own individual choices about what volunteering opportunities they would like to pursue - with many pushing their staff into specific projects because it fits with a specific corporate objective. it would be good to have an element of choice in these schemes - and allow staff to identify specific projects to volunteer for.
A proportion of the time allocated for volunteering work should be nominated as "personal choice" and the individual should be allowed to spend this time doing whatever work they feel is valuable to them. This would be reviewed at their annual appraisal - and followed up and developed if viable into a longer term commitment by the organisation.
The potential opportunities that this might open up for any business are endless.
The first challenge is getting the organisation to agree to a volunteering scheme per se. And then allowing a percentage of the allocated volunteering time to be self nominated. But if it is done as part of a wider corporate social responsbility / staff engagement strategy it could be very powerful.
Get a paper to your Board.