I am a fan of organisations incorporating the Mental Health Foundation’s Ways of Wellbeing into their everyday business practices and so was interested to come across a great ‘good news’ story by Bruce McCombie in an HR magazine called ‘Personnel Today’. Bruce works with an organisation in the UK called Pilotlight which matches skills of a business’s employees with groups within the community who could benefit from their help, and the article echoes my beliefs about the benefits of a business building skills-based volunteering into their business model.
He comments that employees are becoming much more aware of their social footprint and their effect on the local community and society, and while achieving a healthy bottom line will always be critical to a company’s success, it is no longer enough; they also need to shift their focus when it comes to attracting and retaining staff, and cultivate a social purpose. Younger staff members expect their employers to show more social responsibility and if organisations are going to retain them, it also helps when older staff members are active, positive role models in this area.
Volunteering is good for business
Employee engagement is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses these days, so, embedding social responsibility into corporate culture and encouraging employees at every level to take part, can be an effective way of boosting employee engagement levels as well as giving something back to the local community.
Skills-based volunteering allows your team to use their best skills to create a social impact. It attaches something very personal – their own strengths and abilities – to a *cause* they are passionate about. Little surprise that then that 79% of participants in one such exercise reported an increase in job satisfaction as a result and 70% said the initiative had complemented their career development.
And taking social responsibility is not only the domain of big business; small businesses and sole practitioners can benefit from sharing their skills with others too. Not only do you get a chance to make a positive impact outside of your everyday work, but when you work in isolation, volunteering is a great way to connect with others.
How can you make a difference?
Do you already have a volunteer programme in your business? If so, consider sharing the benefits of your activities with others in your business and personal networks, and encourage them to take up the challenge. If not, take a look around your neighbourhood, or wider communities of interest and think about how you might help. Talk to your staff and colleagues about what inspires and motivates them when you’re deciding on a cause and consider how effective this could be for improving the health of your whole business.
Maybe hold a brainstorming session in a staff meeting, or provide a suggestion box for activities. Involving people in the decision-making process can in itself be a helpful way to engage everyone and to introduce an enhanced sense of wellbeing which can be built on.
Remember, workplace wellness goes beyond having a correctly set up desk and chair – even though you know how important those are- it’s about mental and physical wellbeing for all, because a healthy workplace is a healthy business!