Anyone in a secure and longstanding career might feel that the prospect of volunteering is one that will have no benefits to their professional life, and they will quickly dismiss the idea. This is far from an accurate view on the matter, however. In addition to being a rewarding way of ‘giving back’ to the world around us, volunteering brings with it many other advantages that prove useful in a person’s professional and personal life. From a business perspective, volunteering schemes also have numerous benefits, from improving company image to enhancing employees’ workplace experience.
Here, we explore the top ten benefits of volunteering for businesses and employees as told by Thomson EC.
Benefits of volunteering for employees
An employee can reap a wide range of rewards from undertaking volunteering, especially if they can find an opportunity in their relevant field.
Increased knowledge and understanding
Volunteering initiatives invite participants to inadvertently learn about the area that they are serving. Even though this is not the reason why volunteers have been sought, those carrying out work in the field will pick up things as they go, which can then benefit them in their professional career – and other areas of life.
An example of this is in the case of an ecologist who has chosen to do volunteer work in a wildlife sanctuary. Working closely with protected species in this environment will help a volunteer procure a thorough understanding of the life and habits of that species. This will be an advantage in an ecologist’s role because they will have gained firsthand experience.
More credibility in their area of work
The knowledge and understanding that comes with volunteering will also give the participant more credibility in a work environment. Firsthand experience means a volunteer has real evidence to consider when it comes to making suggestions or decisions. In the aforementioned example, someone who has worked in a wildlife sanctuary with a protected species will have more authority when it comes to understanding the behaviour of the species, than someone who has only read books about this.
An opportunity to learn about their character
Taking time to carry out volunteer work illustrates the values and personality of an individual. A participant can better understand their motivations and commitment to the field, and learn more about what they truly want out of their career.
A volunteering position in their preferred sector will help a person to determine whether or not they are truly passionate about that area. If they are willing to give up spare time, unpaid, to carry out the work then it will become clear that the particular area is one that they would like to work in. Volunteering can teach a person about more practical aspects too, such as time management and organisational skills.
To gather more life experience
Volunteering in any field offers participants an opportunity to gather new life experience. In addition to learning about a specific sector and about personal skills, volunteer work will introduce those taking part in new information, new places and new people. While it may not seem like it at the time, these experiences can help a person to make well-informed decisions later in life, and may also open up further opportunities in either a professional or personal capacity.
Chance to form new relationships
It’s usually the case that those taking part in the same volunteering scheme are like-minded, and therefore great friendships are formed. This kind of work is a brilliant way of socialising because the issue at hand is one that everyone involved is passionate about. Not only could volunteering help a person to meet new friends, it could also help further their career in that networking often comes with new opportunities.
Benefits of Volunteering for Businesses
Business owners will likely find that their company sees various benefits as a result of offering their staff the chance to take part in a volunteering initiative.
Improved company image
A prime advantage of putting together a volunteering scheme is that this reveals the values of a company. Prospective stakeholders will likely consider the humanitarian ethos of the company, which could impact on whether or not they buy a product, invest in the company, or apply to work there.
Increased staff productivity
A volunteering scheme is likely to enhance employees’ productivity in that they will be more inspired by their work. Taking the ecologist example again, if the volunteer’s work involved practical participation in caring for a protected species, in the workplace, all those who have taken part will further understand the benefits of what they are doing. This means they are likely to be motivated to work harder and deliver their targets.
Better workplace relationships and teamwork
Having an opportunity to work together in a potentially less formal space will allow colleagues to get to know one another in a more social and relaxed environment. This should mean that relationships can blossom as employees get to understand each other more, and have increased respect as a fellow enthusiast in the area of the volunteer work.
In the office or work environment, this will likely be reflected in the way that the employees work together. With increased understanding comes patience and appreciation for each other, so this should result in openness to ideas and less conflict.
A higher standard of workforce
Employees who have undertaken volunteer work in the same sector that the company is in, have increased knowledge and understanding, and therefore become more authoritative in the relevant area. When a company has put such a volunteering scheme together, all of the employees who take part will benefit from this added experience.
When combined, their workforce is, therefore, stronger and more expert in the field, making the company’s service more dependable and of a generally higher standard than competitors might be.
Boosted company culture
Offering a work-organised volunteering initiative will have an overall positive effect on the workplace. Not only will employees benefit from increased learning and productivity, but they are also likely to feel more valued at work. This is because the opportunity to work with colleagues in an unpaid, hands-on environment illustrates the fact that their passion and commitment to the cause is appreciated by the company.
A good company culture is important because it engenders a happy workforce that is willing to go above and beyond, plus it makes for an attractive place to work for prospective new recruits.
As an individual or a business owner, due consideration should be given to volunteer work – whether this is taking part or organising a scheme. The benefits of doing so can be hugely significant, for both the personal and professional development of those involved.