By Ann Chambers, HR Director, Wessanen UK
When you consider that British workers can spend, on average, up to 3,500 days of their lifetime at work – you can understand people using their spare time for their own personal interests and spending time with their family and friends.
However, in this day and age people are becoming increasingly more ethically minded and purpose-driven- in particular with volunteering rising in popularity and proving extraordinarily rewarding in more ways than one.
So, should employers be offering their employees the opportunity to dedicate some of their working hours to charitable giving?
How Wessanen are pledging to make a difference…
At Wessanen one of our key business pillars is to be the “UK Lighthouse for Sustainability”. To achieve this goal we all need to collectively commit to doing our bit to help people and the planet. We understand that life doesn’t always give you the time or opportunity to ‘do good’ for the local or wider community. As a B Corp business committed to driving positive social and environmental change, we’ve launched a new volunteering initiative that provides our colleagues with the opportunity to volunteer and support a local sustainability cause or charity that is close to their heart during work time.
Why offer the opportunity?
Not only is it immensely rewarding to give back to the local community or work on your own social responsibility objectives, but volunteering has even been proven to impact significantly and positively on physical health and mental health. It can reduce stress, improve emotional wellbeing and give a fulfilling sense of social connection.
With 1 in 4 people now experiencing a mental health illness in their lifetime, volunteering time to a good cause or an activity that makes you feel fulfilled is not only important for your own self-worth, but can really make a difference in the world around you.
If you are considering running a similar initiative in business, the importance of allowing employees to pick a cause of their own shouldn’t be underestimated either. There are a wide range of worthy and exemplary charities and bodies to support out there, but for an individual, having a personal connection with the cause will aid enjoyment and commitment even further. It gives an enormous sense of achievement once the volunteering is complete.
At Wessanen we are looking forward to welcoming back employees from this experience feeling enlightened and like they have achieved a job well done.
Not only is this expected in the form of morale and satisfaction, but the skills that can be gained from a volunteering position can be effectively applied to most situations in the workplace too.
Some of the key skills that can be developed include, but are not limited to, time-management, the ability to prioritise tasks and work efficiently, as well as strong leadership and problem-solving abilities. Primarily, communication skills are also built as the individual will have likely met, engaged with and assisted with a wide and diverse range of people.
Volunteering is not just for one type of person
Volunteering is for people of all ages, and while reports show that Millennial and Gen-Z generations are getting more involved in social issues, according to the Guardian, in 2019 older people were more likely to volunteer than younger.
Interestingly, this article also noted that a higher number of 18- to 24-year olds found volunteering a good way to combat isolation. This supports the notion that volunteering can in fact better mental health and help combat some of the more severe effects such as loneliness, anxiety and depression.
While businesses have a responsibility to accomplish their own CSR goals; individuals and professionals have just as much power to make a difference. Where some corporations have got away in the past with not prioritising their social, environmental and socio-economic impact, now it just isn’t acceptable. With consumers caring more and more about ethics and sustainability –businesses and individuals should work together to fully accommodate volunteering, charity support and any other projects that can help better the society we live in.
About the author
Ann Chambers is HR Director at Wessanen UK, a natural and healthy food company with pioneering brands in expanding market segments including Clipper Teas, Kallo, Whole Earth and Mrs Crimble’s. Wessanen UK is CarbonNeutral certified and, either directly or through its subsidiaries, accredited by or a member of a range of industry bodies and associations including; the Fairtrade Foundation; the Soil Association; the UK Tea & Infusions Association, and the Organic Trade Board. Wessanen UK became a Certified B Corp in 2019.