Would your manager let you volunteer to save the planet? What about painting an old person’s house?

7 Mar

I attended a seminar yesterday on CR (corporate responsibility) and employee engagement. Once the glossy presentation was over though, I quickly realised that people thought CR was just about volunteering – and so we spent an hour talking about that. Which is fair enough…. Go with the interest they say don’t they?

So – I learnt something anyway. Volunteering (apparently) is about painting old people’s homes or saving the planet (picking up litter and clearing canals). Although – I’m sure there’s more to it really…

The really interesting thing to me was to find out that several of the large, private sector employers in the room with me actually offer their staff very generous amounts of time off to do volunteering. KPMG give staff 6 days a year. BT also actively encourage volunteering by offering time off – and several banks do the same.

But what about the public sector? Not great I’m afraid. My sector – the NHS – have very few volunteering schemes (that I’m aware of) and do not actively encourage volunteering. And the other public sector bodies in the room (police, local government) don’t seem to either.

Why is that? Surely we’re missing a trick aren’t we? We talk all the time about how we need to engage better – not just with our staff, but with our communities as well. What better way to do that than volunteering? You give your staff a sense of purpose and some responsibility by sending them off to paint an old people’s home or clear a canal – and the community benefits. What’s not to like?

Any got a spare old people’s home they want painting?