How employee volunteering can help you recruit and retain staff

Volunteers’ Week takes place on the 1st – 7th June each year; celebrating the impact that volunteers make across the UK. This is an ideal time to look at introducing employee volunteering into your organisation’s CSR programme and how it can boost employee engagement and attraction, as well as supporting charities and the wider community.


A good corporate volunteering programme can act as a bedrock for your candidate attraction plan; simply put, people will almost always prefer to work for a company that endorses the values they believe in than an organisation that doesn’t. This is more true than ever for younger generations of your workforce.

Millennials (those born around 1981-1991) expect companies to publicly commit to CSR and research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) has found that 82% would choose to be employed by a company that has been recognised for its ethics.

Generation Z (those born around 1991-2001) is now entering the workforce and they expect even more of their employers in terms of CSR. According to research by business network group i4cp, 93% of Generation Z jobseekers would be influenced by a company’s impact on society in their decision to work there.

It isn’t just younger employees who are influenced by an organisation’s impact on society. A survey from YouGov found that 27% of British managers would actually take a pay cut in order to work for a company with a clear social purpose and a third would leave their job if their employer’s overall purpose was unclear. So CSR has a dramatic affect on recruitment and its importance is likely to continue to grow over time.

However, employees don’t just want CSR to be about fundraising and corporate donations; they also expect opportunities to directly help their community. Companies that include lots of volunteering opportunities in their CSR are generally more successful at recruiting and retaining employees. However, despite this clear demand, employer-supported volunteering is still relatively rare: in 2016/17, only 6% participated in occasional or one-off voluntary activities encouraged by their employer.

This represents an easy win for employers looking to distinguish themselves from their competition and attract the very best employees. Running successful employee volunteering programmes (and promoting them on their careers pages and job advertisements) can really help companies stand out from the crowd.


Employee volunteering has also been shown to create greater staff engagement and boost retention rates. Giving employees opportunities to help society makes your company a more positive workplace with greater employer happiness, which in turn helps to improve company productivity and efficiency.

Volunteering also helps your staff to develop new and better skills, which also leads to more content and productive employees. Volunteering together on group projects strengthens relations among colleagues and fosters better teamwork. Volunteering is also a great opportunity for individuals to build confidence and learn new skills, particularly soft skills such as problem solving, communication, leadership and self-motivation, which are increasingly useful as your staff move up into management roles.

Employee Volunteering Ideas

There is a clear business case for introducing a cross-company employee volunteering scheme, both to help boost staff development and retention and to help improve the recruitment of new employees. Here are a few ways to make it happen:

  • Paid volunteering leave
    The simplest way to support employee volunteering – staff receive a set number of paid workdays available for volunteering and use them to support a cause close to their heart.
  • Matched gift programme
    Instead of offering paid leave for volunteering, you could ask employees to report the time they volunteer outside of work and then match those hours with a cash donation to the cause.
  • Day of caring
    Dedicate a working day or afternoon to a company-wide volunteer project. Ideally, it should be a project that either supports the local community or is aligned with the company’s culture and values.
  • Skills-based volunteering
    There are many charitable organisations that can help you to set up a volunteer matching program that allows employees to use their professional skills to help underprivileged members of the community.
  • Companionship activities
    Not every employee has skills that can translate into volunteering, but everyone is able to spend time with someone who needs companionship, such as older people, those in hospital or vulnerable children.

There are also lots more ideas on the Volunteers’ Week website. Whichever options you go for, don’t forget to also introduce ways to measure the impact on employee recruitment and retention.

Share this page

Recruitment Advice