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Anneli Knight
Smarter Writer

Anneli Knight is a journalist, writer and academic with a background in law and finance. She lives in Byron Bay

Anneli Knight
Smarter Writer

Anneli Knight is a journalist, writer and academic with a background in law and finance. She lives in Byron Bay

Involving your staff to take part in your corporate social responsibility initiatives makes them feel good about working for you. It can also transform the dynamics of your workplace. Read on to learn how your business can support employee volunteering in charity acts.

A working environment, where employees are encouraged to volunteer have social responsibility can make staff feel good, is team-building and will develop skills. Plus, it’s just a nice thing to do.

Two times a year a team of employees from brand activation group, Zinc fly to Cambodia to work on charity acts for the Cambodian Kids Foundation.

Zinc CEO, Peter Cleary, says the team members from Zinc have been involved in many ways during their 10-day visits.

“They participate in a range of charity acts – they've built houses,  a school and they help in the community garden. Our graphics creative department also go in and teach art and music,” says Peter.

The-Business-Benefits-of-Charitable-Acts

The importance of kindness

The volunteer program at Zinc is central to the culture and values of the business, and it’s an approach Peter recommends strongly.

“As long as the [charity] organisation aligns with the business’s values, it’s the most powerful team building you can do,” says Peter. “Kindness is important and it costs us nothing.”

The Zinc staff fundraise to cover the cost of their airfares to Cambodia and take a mixture of annual and paid leave while they’re there.

As well as doing on-the-ground projects, the business donates a percentage of its profits to Cambodian Kids Foundation and also offers skill-based services that don’t require staff to travel. The business sets aside two to three business days a year for team members to focus their skills to deliver specific outcomes for the charity.

“One of the projects we’ve done recently is design to help the foundation develop their marketing and branding, and manage their CRM (customer relationship management),” Peter says.

Staff volunteering projects are a wonderful way of enhancing skills, professional development, work enjoyment and retention rates.

Brett Williamson, Volunteering Australia

How to incorporate giving back to the community

Brett Williamson, CEO of Volunteering Australia, says there are many ways for a business to support volunteering initiatives.

“Some organisations give one or two days of volunteer leave each year within their employment practices and leave it open-ended so individuals can make a choice as to how they give back,” says Brett.

“The other way of giving back is to make it a group decision where the business can identify a particular project or need, and pursue it on a collective basis, pooling the skills and services the business offers,” he says.

“Gicing back is not necessarily about rolling up sleeves and getting your hands dirty. There’s a lot more intelligence sharing now, making contributions to a [charity] organisation’s planning, business strategies and even some of the functions that need to be enhanced, whether it’s a website that needs to be developed or a training program delivered.”

Giving back is gratifying

Brett says the new generation of employees are increasingly looking for a workplace that makes a community contribution.

“The younger generation prefer to work for companies with good citizen values and actions.”

While there is a great deal of flexibility possible for a business to supports its staff volunteering, there are some basic rules.

“One of the main things is to make sure it’s not just tokenistic. It’s important to make sure the objectives and outcomes are really clear,” says Brett.

And then to involve staff in the planning so they feel engaged in the process.

“It’s a wonderful way of enhancing skills, professional development, work enjoyment and retention rates.”

Overall, it’s a triple-win.

“It’s a win for individuals, a win for small business because it gets seen as making a difference, and it’s good for the community.”

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