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How to convert community action into skills development

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25th Mar 2015
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Steve Wilkins tells us why CSR is more than a box-ticking day out of the office.

In today’s ever-changing workplace, employee development strategies need to constantly evolve to remain efficient. Highlighting a way for a business and an individual to benefit simultaneously, the CIPD released a report showing the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in employee development.

Encompassing a host of abilities that can be established through volunteering activities, the report lists personal skills and employee engagement qualities that can promote efficiency company-wide by providing an appreciation of the communities they serve. Consequently, volunteering should be considered a valuable addition to a company’s L&D schemes.

Employee benefits

CSR can shift an individual’s attitude and expectations, by offering a different perspective of the world around them, along with providing an enhanced skillset, including:

  • Gaining a greater appreciation for the community. Through volunteering, team members recognise how their decisions can impact the wider workforce along with the environment and communities they serve. This supports individual growth by encouraging them to think about their actions, whether this be through recycling or switching off the lights. Encourage your employees to volunteer and support any nominated charities. Additionally, through increasing awareness of CSR opportunities, employees are supporting a company’s vision and business philosophy by upholding its values and contributing to its success.
  • Improving communication skills. Volunteering encourages staff to communicate with a different audience, thus enhancing their confidence. A CSR steering group can decide on the type of volunteering activities to undertake as well as encouraging team members to take part. This offers a collaborative approach, providing additional responsibility on leading volunteering activities or organising fundraising, allowing them to mentor junior members to follow their lead and share different skills.
  • Developing existing knowledge. Volunteering provides team members the chance to collaborate with different departments and to share skills and expertise. By offering employees an opportunity to develop their knowledge by undertaking a role they might not necessarily work in and with people they don’t usually work with, CSR activities can allow them to progress in different areas. For example, in my free time, I work with an organisation providing charities with HR support and guidance, and any consequent additional understanding I gain of new audiences I transfer to my current role.
  • Becoming a well-rounded individual. Taking part in CSR initiatives can enhance an individual’s soft skills such as team building and skill sharing. Through volunteering, employees interact with a variety of people across an organisation, helping to also increase staff camaraderie while reinforcing a company’s commitment to the workforce.

Key takeaways

If CSR, HR and L&D collaborate, companies stand to gain a greater sense of community resulting in increased productivity among employees. Volunteering initiatives are also a viable means to create a greater appreciation of diversity and complement traditional forms of staff development. Effective CSR can play a role in developing future leaders from within a company by focusing on individual development to cultivate managerial skills necessary to be a successful leader. Consequently, organisations can expect to mould well-rounded team members who think creatively, allowing the growth and development of an organisation, which is why the collaboration between these departments is so valuable.

Steve Wilkins is HR manager of FedEx

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