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Report puts the business case for staff volunteering in terms of developing skills and competencies

Staff volunteering has been shown to be a cost-effective and motivating way to develop the skills and competencies of employees and it has the potential to save as much as 1,000 per person when compared to the costs of traditional training methods.

Produced by Corporate Citizenship (part of Bell Pottinger), the report -Volunteering: the Business Case - tracks the learning and development of 550 employees from 16 City firms volunteering in schools and colleges across the UK.

The report was launched by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Nick Anstee, at an event that attracted over 150 business leaders.

The research shows employee volunteers are able to develop a wide range of skills and competencies related to their personal effectiveness, including communication skills, ability to coach others, adaptability and ability to be effective in different surroundings and influencing and negotiating skills.

Andrew Wilson, director of corporate citizenship and the report's main author, said: "The experiential nature of volunteering makes it hugely valuable in the skills development process and sets it apart from more traditional approaches to training.

"Volunteering requires employees to step outside their normal working role and build relations with people who have a very different world view from their own. Employees report that moving outside their comfort zone in this way is extremely useful in both developing their skills and transferring these skills back into the workplace.

"In addition, the skills development observed by volunteers is not simply a self-reported gain. The evidence was corroborated by the overwhelming majority of their line managers who feel that volunteers acquire useful skills from their volunteering experience. Many of these skills feature in the mainstream competency frameworks used by companies to monitor and guide staff development."

"Most importantly, developing skills through volunteering is more cost-effective than traditional training programmes. Overall, the average annual cost to support each volunteer is £381 per person per annum. This figure includes the full costs, including direct management costs and all additional costs involved in running an effective volunteering programme. In contrast, data from a UK survey on training costs shows that the typical training spend per employee can be as much as £1,400 per person per annum".


Alan Tapnack, executive director and board member of Investec, said: "After many years of philanthropic giving we launched our formal social investment programme in 2008, with education as a major focus. We didn't set out with the intention of developing the skills of our employees through social investment, but many of our volunteers have said that they have learned and gained much through being involved in our education initiatives. We are pleased to be involved in this research project as it will encourage more businesses to invest in their local communities, while also delivering valuable benefits to their employees."

And Michael Collins, head of corporate responsibility at Société Générale, commented: "Business heads quite rightly demand a solid business case to justify investment.  The City of London report will add substantially to our ability to build the business case for volunteering."

Anstee commented: "Having worked in the City for the entirety of my professional career, I am well aware of the mutual benefits a well-run corporate volunteering programme can bring to business and to local communities.

"Communities clearly benefit when businesses choose to partner local organisations and when they encourage their employees to devote time and energy providing opportunities for people living in difficult circumstances, often in seriously deprived areas.

"The reciprocal benefits for businesses are equally apparent - a commitment to corporate responsibility can boost a firm's reputation while also helping to create a highly-skilled, well motivated workforce. All of this provides a distinct advantage when it comes to the recruitment and retention of top talent.

"It is for these reasons that the City of London Corporation has a long-standing commitment to community involvement.

"Not only does the City run a structured volunteering programme for its own employees but it also runs the Lord Mayor's Dragon Awards to celebrate the most innovative and successful corporate community involvement programmes run by London-based organisations each year."