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8th Aug, 2022

Olivia Maguire
Olivia Maguire
Job Title
Content Marketing Lead

World Humanitarian Day is the perfect opportunity for businesses to reflect on their charitable contributions, their place within their local communities, and how they can encourage employees to get behind charitable initiatives.

There are many ways that organisations can do their bit for society and support humanitarian aid, from fundraising, donations, strategic partnerships, to adopting greener practices. Here we look at employer-supported volunteering (ESV) as a way to provide humanitarian support and help communities at a local level.

What is employer-supported volunteering?

Employer-supported volunteering, also known as corporate volunteering, is where employees take paid time off to volunteer during their normal working hours. ESV is a great way for businesses to build partnerships in their local community, giving time and practical support to local needs. It also goes a long way to helping businesses reach their corporate social responsibility targets.

Organisations may choose to organise volunteering activities on behalf of their employees or offer staff time off to pursue their own opportunities.

Why is ESV important?

In recent years, it has become clear that businesses have an ethical duty to support their local communities as well as wider global issues. Those that provide ESV opportunities can make a real difference to people’s lives, as well as helping their employees develop and grow existing skills.

According to research by Pilotlight, a charity that connects not-for-profit organisations with business leaders, 21% of UK workers are already volunteering, but a further 50% would like to utilise their professional skills through volunteering. Of those that wish to volunteer, 69% said they struggle to find the time and 38% feel they need guidance on how to do it.

Commenting on the findings, Ed Mayo, CEO of Pilotlight said: “A few hours a month can do wonders for employee morale and for the charities they support. It does need some care to do it well, but the good news is that, for personal and professional development, it is better by far than sending your staff on another training course.”

These research findings highlight a clear opportunity for businesses to step in, allow employees to volunteer during normal working hours and provide them with a platform and guidance on how to do it.

The benefits of ESV for businesses

There are many benefits that ESV can bring to your business. Through volunteering, employers can build stronger teams who are better communicators, all while boosting employee morale. People are more engaged at work when they can see a greater good and the positive impact they are having, and by volunteering their skills and knowledge, this can promote a sense of pride in themselves and their employer.

In addition, ESV can boost a business’ brand reputation and positively impact their talent attraction and retention strategies, especially as professionals now place more emphasis on a company’s ethical, moral, and social values.

How to create an ESV strategy

Businesses that are looking to implement a volunteering programme need to consider the following factors in order to make it a success:


The first thing to consider is what the community needs. Speak to local campaigners, charities, and your employees to find out what causes they feel passionately about supporting and consider what social issues are most pressing for your local community. To take it one step further, look at any issues that specifically affect your employees, customers, and suppliers, which will help develop a long-term sustainable strategy.

To create a truly authentic ESV strategy, you should ensure that any initiatives align with your business’ vision or values. Volunteering for a cause that your business fundamentally does not support internally will appear disingenuous and may do more harm than good to your company brand.

Skills of employees

In order to ensure that both parties receive mutual benefit, look at the skills that your employees already possess and try to match these to the needs of the community. For example, if you are in the banking sector, you could encourage employees to deliver money awareness sessions in local schools or provide digital banking support to elderly care home residents. Or if you work in the technology sector, employees could offer their skills to help small charities improve their website functionality.

Engaging employees

One of the most important aspects of creating an ESV strategy is to ensure that your employees are fully engaged with the process. Leaders should regularly communicate about the available initiatives, providing clear justification for each volunteering opportunity, and how it will help the local community.

Most people will want to volunteer, but in order to get them fully bought in, try conducting a company-wide survey on what your employees feel passionately about and how they feel they can best utilise their skills.

Employer-supported volunteering is a great way to give back to the community, help your employees develop and grow their skills, reach your corporate responsibility and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) goals, and can boost your employer brand.

If you are looking for a talented professional to join your team, contact one of our specialist consultants here.