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Employee volunteering can improve workplace happiness


A new survey by social platform Neighbourly has found that employee volunteering (EV) is the route to a happier workplace. The survey, carried out by an independent research company with 2,000 people across the UK, found that employees who have volunteered with their company are 13 percent happier than those who have not. Comment Carmel McQuaid, Head of Sustainable Business at client M&S.

Neighbourly commissioned the survey to gain greater understanding of the attitudes around happy, healthy communities and the value of volunteering, with a number of questions addressing employee volunteering and happiness. A happier workforce brings a number of bottom line benefits to a business, including better staff attraction and retention; improved cost savings thanks to lower staff turnover and a reduction in lost wages; as well as a positive culture and an improvement in productivity.

The survey also found that employees who volunteer are 15 percent more satisfied with their lives, and that they are also 15 percent more likely to recommend the company they work for, helping to support the recruitment of top talent. The benefits of a happier workforce are backed up by research by other bodies.

The University of Warwick found that being happy made people 12 percent more productive, whilst a CAP study found that replacing an employee costs approximately 20 percent of their annual salary. In addition, the Centre for Mental Health has just released updated figures for the estimated cost of mental health problems to employers3 which now equates to around £1,300 per employee.

“Whilst the link between happiness and volunteering may not be a new one, the benefits and wider implications for employees, employers and the community cannot be ignored,” commented Nick Davies, founder of Neighbourly. “Having greater insight into the positives of volunteering couldn’t have come at a more crucial time, when smaller community projects and charities are more in need of help than ever, due to the reduction in funding from the government, and we are trying to create transparency around that.”

With 75 percent of millennials considering the potential to contribute to society when choosing an employer4, the possibilities for employee volunteering are huge. As well as supporting their local communities, 85 percent of businesses find volunteering advances talent as part of the learning and development strategy5.

Carmel McQuaid, Head of Sustainable Business at M&S said, “Our goal is to create a positive impact in society and improve peoples’ lives wherever we touch them. That’s why we encourage our employees to give up their knowledge, time, and energy to volunteer in the communities where we operate. We know from our own experience that the value of volunteering goes well beyond the impact of a single task, it actually improves employee wellbeing and happiness in the process.”

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