· 1 min read · Features

Hot topic: Compulsory volunteering, part two


The Conservative manifesto proposed requiring public sector employers and companies with more than 250 employees to give staff up to three days a year for voluntary work. After the party's general election victory, organisations may be wondering how this potential new law will play out.

In part two of this Hot Topic, we asked an HR director for her views.

"Social responsibility is a deeply embedded part of our culture. We have a guiding philosophy – ‘Be More’ – that runs through everything we do. It’s all about that extra mile – and social responsibility is a great example of that.

In 2014 we helped 400,000 young people go through our various Think Big programmes, which encourage people to make a positive difference to their local communities using digital. This is something we’re incredibly proud of, and it’s important to us that our people are every bit as passionate.

That’s why everyone at O2 has their own Think Big objective: a personal goal that allows them to go beyond the day-to-day and make a wider difference. They all decide what to do – whether it’s mentoring a local Think Big community project, hosting sessions at the Think Big Hub or working with the O2 Recycle team.

It’s not about forcing people – then they’re no longer volunteers. You can implement all the policies you like, but if the wider culture isn’t there, they’ll soon fall by the wayside. Employers need to foster an environment that encourages people to view social responsibility as just as important as their daily tasks.

And this is not just something we as an individual employer expect. Today’s young people are increasingly prioritising CSR when job searching. Our Global Millennial survey last year showed that a company’s attitude here plays a major role in either attracting or alienating candidates, with young people increasingly prioritising this over salary. Businesses can’t afford to ignore this trend. Young people are the future of our workforce, so if CSR is important to them, it needs to be high on employers’ agendas too."

Ann Pickering is HR director at O2

Read the first part of this Hot Topic here