How valuable is voluntary work?

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by Chloe Taylor 
 
Research conducted by Deloitte has found that 81% of HR managers take a history of voluntary work into account when making a hiring decision, with three quarters considering applicants with this experience more desirable.

Today is International Volunteer Day, and with voluntary work being valued so highly by employers, now might be the time to participate in a volunteer program or to rethink the value of volunteering experience when hiring.

Steve Shepherd, employment market analyst at Randstad, said that everyone – regardless of their position at work – should view volunteering as an opportunity to develop personal and professional skills, while improving their career prospects.

“Often it’s seen as a distraction taking people away from their current role rather than as a learning and development experience,” he said. “But many employers are realising now that it’s exposing people to different situations and circumstances outside of the workplace – and that’s a good opportunity. Someone who’s demonstrated volunteering experience has shown they’ll go the extra mile to develop their skills, and depending on the kind of experience, they could add value to the business.”

He added that volunteering also shows a history of building experience in different ways as well as a willingness to work.

Shepherd also suggested that employers can benefit from incorporating a volunteering initiative into their workforce, and had some advice for employers when choosing a program to work with.

“It all depends on the values of the organisation,” he said. “Sometimes – depending on the type of field you’re in – there could be something closely aligned to the business. Talk to NGOs or community groups and understand them – like any partnership, it’s important to find out if there is a dynamic there.”

Shepherd said that by encouraging voluntary work, employers can help staff to further develop their skills.

“HR specialists can also use their skillsets in a different environment, and gain a broader skillset that they can bring back to the business,” he added.

“Aligning with a charitable organisation with a volunteering program can also act as a valuable retention tool – Generation Y is more concerned with what their company is doing in the community. It also shows staff that there’s a sense of creating purpose in the job they do.”

Randstad has a close affiliation with VSO.

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