A Report by Research Agency Corporate Citizenship (Andrew Wilson and Francesca Hicks), Commissioned by the City of London
Sixteen large, private-sector companies took part in this study, which was designed to assess the impact of education volunteering on the employees themselves. The study drew on the accounts of 546 corporate volunteers and some of their line managers. Researchers used self-assessment questionnaires together with 169 direct reports from line managers to survey the effect of volunteering with schools and colleges on skills development, performance and job satisfaction. There was also a smaller cohort of 31 volunteers who provided a baseline self-assessment of their skills prior to volunteering.
Communication skills and the ability to help others improve were particularly enriched, however, many competencies “strongly related to an individual’s personal effectiveness”, benefited from improvement. Different activities were found to be weighted towards different core competencies; the types of activity and its main associated benefits were as follows:
- being a reading, language or number partner improved communication and influencing and negotiating skills the most
- student mentoring had greatest impact on coaching and helping others to improve
- enterprise workshops particularly developed leadership, adaptability, team working and building relationships/networks skills
- supporting an education-related charity was “particularly helpful” for team working skills, building relationships/networks, and financial skills.
- being a school governor is “perhaps the most challenging activity…and the one which delivers very significant skills gains”: team working, influencing and negotiation skills as well as “hard business skills” such as budgetary control.
In the workplace, line manager respondents observed a dramatic increase in employees’ teamworking skills, improvements in adaptability and planning and organisational skills, together with an increased capacity for continual improvement. The strongest positive changes in employees’ personal qualities were an awareness of wider social issues, a heightened sense of well-being and happiness, and understanding of and empathy with others. Supporting employees in their volunteering role is also “a highly cost-effective way to develop certain core competencies”.
The research also found strong, positive effects on employee engagement with their company ethos and goals. The report finds increased levels of motivation and morale, job satisfaction and commitment, increasing “their loyalty towards and appreciation of the company they work for”, all cited as “a direct result of the opportunities afforded by their volunteering experience”.