Fifteen thousand employees across the UK will be taking part in volunteering activities today as part of Give and Gain day.
The success of the day indicates there is demand for the Conservative proposal to make it a legal right for workers to request three paid days a year to do voluntary work.
However, three quarters (76%) of employees either did not know (56%) or were not aware (20%) of their employer having a volunteering scheme – suggesting the demand could be even higher.
The results came from a survey of 2,174 adults conducted by Ipsos/Mori for Business in the Community.
Only one in 20 (6%) workers said they had used their employer’s volunteering scheme with a similar number (5%) admitting they were aware of their employer’s volunteering scheme, but did not have enough time to use it.
Approximately 70% of FTSE100 companies already had a volunteering programme, yet the report noted that participation and awareness of these programmes remained stubbornly low.
Waitrose sustainability and ethical sourcing manager Tina Varns explained that volunteering was an important part of the firm’s approach and that each of its shops supported staff to volunteer for local good causes. The retailer is also a sponsor of Give and Gain Day.
“Waitrose donates 75,000 paid hours a year for partners to give their time and skills to support local good causes. This will really come alive on Give and Gain Day, when our branches will link up local organisations – businesses and voluntary organisations – to make the sum of the parts greater than the whole,” said Varns.
“Over 1,000 of our partners were involved in Give and Gain Day last year. Our branches all reported it was such a rewarding event, supporting the health and wellbeing of our local communities. Volunteering is a key way in which businesses such as ours can help make a real and visible difference to the communities in which we operate.”
Other major employers including BT, Carillion, and Lloyds Banking Group are also supporting the day.
Business in the Community chief executive Stephen Howard said: “We recognise that employee volunteering can be challenging for many employers and therefore look forward to understanding more of the detail behind the Conservative government’s proposal, but potentially this could be a great thing for not only charities and local communities, but also employers and their employees.
“Volunteering is a powerful tool which builds dialogue and relationships between groups of people and organisations who might otherwise not have the opportunity to engage in a community. It also offers genuine mutual benefit – the experience both builds skills and motivates employees, while helping to make a positive contribution that meets community needs.
“Our research suggests there is more to be done to embed volunteering as part of everyday business with three quarters of employees saying they do not know if volunteering in work time is available to them and just 6% taking the opportunity to volunteer if offered. We urge many more business to get involved in volunteering and ask those who are involved to use it as a springboard into deeper long term business engagement in their local area,” he added.