Top 3 benefits of connecting your employees to volunteering

By Caroline McKenna, Founder and CEO of social enterprise Social Good Connect

As a social enterprise, our mission is to build a world where people care and are inspired to make a positive social impact, so for us, becoming B Corp is a significant step. We’re a purpose-led team committed to increasing employee volunteering and to building an ethical, sustainable and impactful business.

We’re still a ‘pending B-Corp’ because our digital platform has only been trading for 10 months. As ‘connectors for good’, we’ve already connected local, national and global businesses and their hundreds of potential employee volunteers with over 120 charities who need their help.

So why do we care so much about employee volunteering, who benefits and how?

We check in weekly with the business and charities who’ve signed up as members. Some are several months into their CSR journey and others are just starting out. But they’re all clear on the difference it makes and on why they’re actively encouraging their employees to get involved.


1. Better community connections and better productivity

Employee volunteering means that employers form a stronger connection with the communities where they work and serve. For some, it’s a new venture as part of a more purpose-led way of doing business; for others, it’s an ideal way to step up their existing programmes of corporate responsibility and add to (and measure) their growing social impact. Either way, it inspires a culture of giving back.

And better mental and physical wellbeing boosts workplace productivity. It’s well documented that work-related stress and exhaustion-related brain fog cause employees to lose focus, affecting memory and concentration. Poor motivation and productivity is no good for business.

And making a profit isn’t the only thing that matters. An attractive company culture and a nurturing environment will allow employees to thrive. Businesses that prioritise staff wellbeing have more motivated teams and better employee retention.

And making a profit isn’t the only thing that matters. An attractive company culture and a nurturing environment will allow employees to thrive.

2. Employees are more engaged

By volunteering, backed by you as their employer and helped by a team who connects them to causes that matter to them, employees enjoy being part of a ‘giving-back’ company culture and report a stronger sense of purpose beyond their working role.

Volunteering is fun and fulfilling, especially if employees find roles to match their individual interests and skills. It provides a welcome break from the daily grind and allows people to put their own problems into perspective and feel a sense of purpose by making a difference to someone else’s life.

And, crucially, volunteering reduces the sense of isolation that so many workers are experiencing right now. Not just for those who are furloughed and yearning to get out and contribute somehow, but for those tied to relentless homeworking, Zoom calls and the same four walls.

As David Hamilton, Executive VP of gaming company Ninja Kiwi, put it: “Helping others is an energiser, even for introverts. Everyone has different issues to contend with right now, and helping others is a great distraction from work and personal challenges.”

Volunteering reduces the sense of isolation that so many workers are experiencing right now.

3. Charities get access to wider pools of help

Charities and the communities they serve - whether it’s helping food or PPE distribution, mental health, physical health, children or elderly people - gain skilled, valuable support from an entirely new source.

We hear from our charity contacts regularly about the value of having forged new and often lasting relationships with local businesses who not only offer skilled help through providing volunteers, but who go on to support the charities and their communities in other innovative ways.

Linda Swan from Tayside Cancer Support told us: “(Thanks to Social Good Connect) we now have a much wider pool of potential matches. It’s enabled us to bring new, skilled people on board and get us moving quickly and efficiently. Joining the platform is a no-brainer. No-one is ever worse off for having taken up volunteering and having helped someone in need!”

Emma Black from Food Train told us: “The beauty of this relationship is that the employee volunteering platform helps us find people who are happy to volunteer despite having incredibly busy working lives, because they can do it flexibly and on terms that fit their work and their lifestyle.”

Making it happen

Ultimately, many businesses are generous and want to do the right thing. But some are giving back in an unstructured, ad hoc way that varies year-on-year. Many stop short of formalising their approach.

Craig Nicol, managing partner of Thorntons Law and adviser to Social Good Connect, sums it up well: “There are plenty of compelling reasons to be involved. Volunteering is an enriching experience. Sometimes challenging, but always enriching. We’ve always been a community-spirited organisation, but your employee volunteering platform has channelled this in a more organised way. It’s great to know that over time, organisations who are involved will be able to report the value of their contribution and start to quantify their social impact as well as enrich the lives of their employees and the people they are helping.”

Before founding Social Good Connect, Caroline McKenna spent 20 years in financial services. She then led the Dundee International Women’s Centre and went on to work in a consultancy capacity to businesses looking to improve their CSR. Caroline accelerated the Social Good Connect launch - in response to the pandemic - six months early in May 2020.She was a finalist in the 2020 FutureX Impact Summit Awards, and works on the boards of three non-profit organisations: Good Call, U-evolve and Dundee University’s School of Business Advisory Board.