February 12, 2021

Employee Volunteering – Why we pay our team to work for other people

When the organisers of the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 (COP26) in Glasgow reached out for volunteers there was a backlash online almost instantly.  Volunteers will be expected to work six shifts over the duration of the event and attend training but, unlike at the delegates who will be well renumerated for their attendance, these hard-working volunteers will be repaid in ‘civic pride’.

As a city committed to achieving the Living Wage for the employees of their local businesses, why can we not offer a fair wage as repayment for their hard work - especially during this time when the pandemic is a major stress on people in the city’s income?

Of course, I’m not armed with all of the facts, so my opinion is based purely on the news I have heard, and perhaps there is good reason (other than financial ones) for COP26 to request volunteers rather than staff.  So instead, I offer another option where COP26 gets a high standard of help, and the volunteers still get compensated for their time - employee volunteering.

Connect Three offers all of its employees the chance to spend four days during the working year volunteering for causes that they believe in, and still get paid their normal wage.  Why on earth would they encourage us to work for other people while they pay us?  Easy, it makes us happy - and that’s not all...

The benefits of Employee Volunteering

Employee Volunteering (EV), also known as Corporate volunteering, is a great way for businesses to contribute to their community.  By giving their employees an annual allowance of paid time to be used to volunteer at a cause of their choice, it has been proven to increase their wellbeing and engagement with their organisation.  It can also be a useful way to attract and retain talent – after all, what organisation would not be made better by hiring employees who care about the world around them?

The traditional perks of health plans and bonus schemes are not enough anymore.  Great people are looking for a great workplace, somewhere they can feel rewarded, engaged, and like they are part of something meaningful.

So, it’s not entirely selfless!  Employees at firms with volunteer days are proud to tell others where they work.  They’ll probably even share their EV work on social media.  It can be great for your brand, for team building, leadership development, and for upskilling your employees.

How to do Employee Volunteering well

A successful EV strategy should not just support an employee’s own efforts, but also give them opportunities.  It does not have to be a solo activity; team volunteering events are becoming more and more common, and there are even ‘brokers’ who will do all of the organising for you.

There is always fear of controversy when it comes to choosing a charity – especially in larger companies where you are likely to cause offence by selecting the ‘wrong’ cause, but charities are not the only option.  You can volunteer for environmental events (like tree planting or COP26), or even school, college and university mentorships.

To find out more about Employee Volunteering, this free CIPD resource is a great place to start.

 

February 12, 2021

Connect Three’s work with SAY Women

For the last two years Connect Three has proudly offered what we can to support the work of the incredible SAY Women charity.  SAY Women offers safe semi-supported accommodation and emotional support for young women aged 16 to 25 who are survivors of sexual abuse, rape or sexual assault and who are homeless, or threatened with homelessness.

As well as attending their fundraising and networking events, we have offered our professional support to their training team.  Katy says "I have been lucky enough to visit their Bell Street site, meet some of the young women, and see first-hand the atmosphere of belonging that they create.  This is a charity that is forged on so much passion and compassion, but also respect for the young women. The things I value most in life are what this charity aims to give to women when they need it most and that can only be a great thing."

While the pandemic means we are currently unable to support the team in person, each Christmas we have also donated practical gifts for the women who are taken care of by the charity.  In 2020 we were pleased to be in the position to increase our donation and give gifts to every young woman and young person supported by SAY Women.  We gifted a self-care pack with journals, slippers, selection boxes, toiletries, and other small gifts to over 65 of the residents and service users.

Our donations allowed these young women to have a Christmas present, in most instances it was their only one, and showed them that someone who didn’t know them, still cared enough to give them something small to smile about, even during their current forced isolated situation.

When Shona spoke to Pam Hunter, SAY Women’s CEO, she shared how difficult the pandemic has made face-to-face support and mentioned that the gifts gave the SAY Women team the reason to check in on each of the women in person.  Although unable to go into details for reasons of confidentiality, Pam mentioned that when she delivered one of our gifts, the visit triggered a series of events that may never have happened without that opportunity.  Shona says “It was wonderful to hear these small acts of kindness can actually be the catalyst for larger, more important events.  It means so much to all of us at Connect Three to know that by living out our values we can play a small part in creating these kind of moments.”

Speaking about the work of the charity Pam said: “Women in homelessness are uniquely vulnerable. The trauma they have experienced means that often they are unable to make decisions which support their safety and wellbeing, and will take more risks based on survival needs and so their trauma continues. This pattern is not inevitable and with just a little additional support from the public we can change this together.”

During the pandemic and lockdown, SAY Women and similar charities have faced more demand than ever before.  In November, the charity Refuge released data that showed there were 50 abuse related killings in the UK during the first lockdown.

As Pam says: “The COVID-19 pandemic places crippling pressure on the lifeline services our young women receive, as their support needs increase dramatically alongside their anxieties.

“It can be more difficult to ask for help and support in the current lockdown, meaning we are seeing our young women potentially repeating the pattern of being a victim of sexual abuse once again, a situation which we are working hard to help them recover from.  The support from Connect Three is very important to SAY Women and we are delighted to be recognised and valued by them in our work with vulnerable young women.”

We will continue to do what we can for SAY Women, and we’d like to take the opportunity to reach out to our clients, suppliers and partners reading this, and ask you to support the cause with us.  You can make a donation to their urgent COVID appeal here.

Or find out more about the charity here.

 

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