A successful business isn’t solely about making revenue, it’s also about building on the potential of every employee and offering them the best work-life possible. People are the most important and valuable resource a business has. Yet keeping individuals engaged can also be one of the most challenging tasks. Ahead of International Volunteer Day, Rebecca Miller, Head of SEEK Volunteer explains why setting time aside for meaningful work can have a big impact on your staff.
Miller suggests one way to engage employees is by considering volunteering opportunities that will recognise employees interests and passion points. In turn, this will often inspire them to be more dedicated to the overall business. She explains:
Volunteering can have an extremely positive impact personally and professionally. Research has shown that volunteering can quite literally make you live longer, help you create social bonds with colleagues, boost your empathy and life satisfaction, combat depression and increase your confidence. Each of these will help make a workplace thrive.
At SEEK, we provide one day of volunteer leave for our employees per year so they are able to give back to the community. They can use the day for individual or team volunteering, to undertake general or skilled tasks. We also have Personal-Flexi Leave, which allows employees to access an additional five days of paid leave throughout the year which can also be utilised for volunteering purposes.
As an example, a group of employees used their volunteer day to help Starlight Children’s Foundation to solve day-to-day technology issues in its Melbourne office. This skilled volunteer project means that Starlight Children’s Foundation can redirect money otherwise spent on IT support to provide services to those in need. This idea started as a conversation at a SEEK Christmas party and grew from there, showing how there’s a world of possibilities for employees if they’re given the opportunity. Consequently, our employees have highly sought after technology skills, which have been offered through volunteering to not-for-profit organisations like this one.
A world of skills from volunteering
SEEK Volunteer, which is the largest resource of volunteer opportunities in Australia, found that a huge 95 per cent of employers agree that volunteering is a credible way of gaining ‘real-work’ experience, meaning that new skills can be learned outside of the office. This can include team-building exercises, communicating with clients and stakeholders, problem-solving and improving interpersonal skills. Ultimately, it shouldn’t matter whether the skills have been gained via paid or volunteer work, it only matters that the skills are real, credible and can also be an asset to the organisation. Volunteering is an excellent way of honing the abilities of your staff and pushing them to be more even more capable professionals.
It also helps to build a sense of confidence and self-worth, which are both crucial to achieving success in the workplace. What we think about ourselves can have a powerful effect on how we feel about ourselves. Through volunteering, knowing that you are valued by others can help you see yourself in a more positive light and help you recognise your own positive attributes. Being helpful and valued is a great way to build self-esteem.
When looking for a new role
Volunteering is also advantageous for candidates looking to move roles. When a future employer sees volunteering on your resume, they instantly get an insight into your interests and who you are as a person. Volunteering highlights your personality traits, that are somewhat difficult to convey in a resume or even during an interview. You are showcasing real-life examples of compassion, dedication and commitment to causes you are personally interested in. In some cases, this can be the determining factor between you and another (very) similar candidate.
It’s encouraged by myself that all businesses offer volunteering days and support employees interest that may lend itself to volunteer work. There’s still 10,000 not-for-profits looking for support on SEEK Volunteer and 300,000 volunteers are needed around the country, so I’d encourage you to get started.