Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

CIPD unveils framework to help employers link volunteering with learning and development strategies

‘Win win’ plan will get more employees volunteering in effort to lower youth unemployment

A new report from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, unveils a framework to get more employees volunteering to help young people get into work.

The report, ‘Volunteering to learn: Employee development through community action,’ shows how volunteering activities can have hidden benefits for businesses if they link schemes to staff development. Not only can voluntary activity give staff new and varied opportunities to enhance their skills, but if integrated into the organisation’s wider learning and development strategy, it could have a longer term impact on organisational success.

The report features a range of businesses such as National Grid, Marks and Spencer and Nationwide, who are all actively promoting CSR within their organisations and focusing on schemes which help young people. At National Grid, they make a direct effort to ensure that all employees have equal access to volunteering opportunities.

Kate Van Der Plank, Head of UK Community Action at National Grid, said: “Sharing our skills and expertise through high quality volunteering has never been more important.  We’re all feeling the pressure on resources which has enabled us to rethink the traditional employee volunteering model and really sharpen it up.  Working closely with our HR team, we focus on volunteer activities which create shared value for society as well as our business and we’ve already seen great results.

“Sharing our business and professional skills enables charity and community organisations to access expertise they may otherwise have to pay for, and help them become more commercial in the way they operate, making them more sustainable.  At the same time, we benefit from rich and engaging learning experiences in skills areas relevant to our business.”

Ruth Stuart, Learning and Development Research Adviser, said: “It’s fantastic to see such a big increase in the number of employers advocating volunteering opportunities to their employees. We welcome the trend for CSR, HR and L&D teams to work together on this. But, it’s also clear that more needs to be done, not just to maximise the developmental opportunities that volunteering offers employees, but also to ensure that what an organisation does within its CSR activity is connected to a more strategic HR and L&D agenda around growing your own workforce and building talent pipelines. There’s definitely an opportunity for volunteering to form part of an organisation’s wider learning and development strategy.  To support this, our research highlights the need for companies to delve further into the key skills and behaviours that volunteering can build, and considers how L&D and HR practitioners can use community action to drive development in order to achieve organisational success.”

Volunteering schemes may be developed internally or link up with existing national initiatives. The CIPD supports a number of volunteering initiatives as part of the Learning to Work programme, as part of a wider agenda to promote greater engagement between employers and young people:

  • Steps Ahead Mentoring is a free, face to face mentoring programme run by the CIPD, designed to draw on our extensive membership network of 130,000 HR professionals, to help young jobseekers in their job search. There are over 1,600 CIPD members signed up to the programme and, during the extended pilot, 73% of the young jobseekers who completed the programme went on to find employment.
  • The CIPD supports ‘Inspiring the Future’, run by the Education and Employers Taskforce, a free national initiative to get professionals into state schools and colleges to deliver careers insight talks, and CV advice sessions.
  • The report also reflects the CIPD’s commitment to the Step Up To Serve campaign, as an increasing number of adult volunteers are required to help support young people and achieve the campaign’s aim to increase participation of 10–20-year-olds in meaningful social action to 50% by 2020.