Big Bosses, Big Business and the Big Society

The Telegraph reports on a call by the Institute of Directors, a UK business organisation, for employers to give staff more time-off to volunteer. The call comes in the wake of a study published by the volunteer charity v that shows that close to two-thirds of UK fail to help their staff to volunteer. The Telegraph article reports Miles Templeman, Director-General of the IoD, saying that:

Employee volunteering is now a major part of the corporate responsibility mix, enabling companies to leverage their most valuable assets – their staff – to address some of the most significant problems facing society.

The v study and the IoD’s call links in with the Conservative Party/Coalition Government’s Big Society idea; a central motif of which is volunteering. Templeman also draws links between volunteering and the current economic difficulties:

It’s clear that in the current climate, many businesses simply can’t afford large-scale financial investment programmes to help communities, so allowing staff time off from work to do good is the ideal solution.

Assuming that staff-members continue to be paid during their time volunteering, this seems an effective means for businesses to fulfil a degree of their corporate responsibility. Staff-members gain valuable volunteering experience; enhancing their skills inventory, improving community links and, perhaps above all, getting them out of the office and into a different working environment. What is key is that links between companies and volunteer organisations become well-established. If this occurs then the quality of the volunteers contribution will improve enormously as experience increases and understanding improves. In this way both parties gain more, rather than just the business fulfilling its monthly volunteer quota and the voluntary organisation receiving volunteers who fail to contribute.

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