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HR Matters: Volunteering and Learning & Development

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15th Jun 2015
HR Manager FedEx
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Steve Wilkins looks at the importance of developing an HR strategy incorporating Learning & Development and CSR.

One of the main focuses of HR is to develop a strategy to increase employee productivity. An area which is of particular importance is the building of skills and training opportunities to ensure both individual and company growth. The professional body for HR and people development, CIPD, recently made the connection between Corporate Social Responsibility activities and employee development in order to add value and help both businesses and individuals grow. In its report it highlights the importance of investing in the workforce through collaboration between HR, L&D and CSR departments and how volunteering has a significant impact not only on personal skills but on a company as a whole.

CSR creates many synergies from an HR and L&D point of view. Not only does it offer an opportunity to develop relationships with charitable organisations, it provides experience outside of an individual’s normal job requirements as well as developing their existing skillset. This in turn boosts morale and employee engagement, while contributing to a business’s objectives.  

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 recycling or switching off the lights.Additionally, through increasing awareness of CSR opportunities of this nature, 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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

Incorporating CSR initiatives with HR provides a worthwhile addition to traditional forms of staff development and performance. Volunteering can be used as an overarching human resources toolkit to break down barriers by engaging different people at different levels, encouraging them to work efficiently as a team.

Volunteering provides long-term solutions to short-term problems. By expanding knowledge and skillsets, this enables the future growth of an individual, while helping to develop the skills needed for leadership and managerial roles, allowing individuals to climb the ranks within a business. This in turn helps with their retention and can also address skills gaps and behavioural changes while encouraging individual development – ultimately helping support an HR department’s people management strategy while allowing a business to grow.

Steve Wilkins is HR Manager of FedEx Express 

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