Legal experts say offering employees paid ‘volunteer time off’ can help family businesses to stand out in a competitive jobs market

Award-winning Cumbrian legal firm, Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors examine the potential benefits to family businesses in offering ‘volunteer time off’ to employees as part of a social giving strategy.

Many family businesses from a wide range of sectors have been enduring recruitment challenges during the past eighteen months. According to ONS figures, the number of job vacancies rose to a record high of 1.219 million in the period September to November 2021, an increase of 434,500 from its pre-pandemic level.

With competition at an all-time high for the best talent in an employee driven marketplace, family businesses need to ask themselves what they can do to make themselves stand out from the crowd in order to attract and retain staff.

Head of Employment Law and HR at Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors, Joanne Stronach believes that publicising your social values and social giving activities could offer potential benefits to family firms facing recruitment challenges.

Joanne said, “Many job hunters, particularly the millennial generation are looking for potential employers with values that align with their own and that care about their staff and the wider community. Often family businesses are actively involved in supporting their local community or in charitable fundraising one way or another, but don’t necessarily talk about it.”

“By talking about this on your social media, including it as part of your company values on your website and by making it a part of your recruitment information, it helps to paint a positive brand image and shows what is important to you as a family business”.

In addition to helping attract potential candidates, social giving and ‘volunteer time off’ for employees can bring a number of other benefits, including greater staff retention, staff unity and even health benefits.

Have you ever thought about giving your employees a paid day off to volunteer?

Helping the local community or supporting a charity does not always need to be about donating money, it can be about donating time and resources. The advantages to the latter can offer numerous potential benefits to your family business and your employees.

Joanne said, “As a regional business and significant local employer, we are proud to support many local community projects. We actively encourage our staff to get involved, including giving them paid time off to do so. It helps introduce them to the idea of volunteering if they have never done it before and we find that many of our staff really enjoy it.

“Aside from the huge difference it can make to the organisations that we support, we also find that it gives our employees a sense of well-being and purpose, creating a sense of pride in something they have achieved outside of work. Most of us will also know how stress-relieving it can be to get away from work and do something totally different for a short period.”

Allowing staff paid time off to engage in volunteering can teach employees new skills that could be applied to their job and can also help to foster a stronger bond between their colleagues and their employer.

Joanne adds,We certainly feel that offering paid volunteering time helps to build staff loyalty as well as creating that vital link between us as a business and the community we serve. Staff feel that they are working for the right business when they share our values and commitment to give back.”

Terri Hope, Marketing Manager at Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors has been involved with many community projects through the company, including ‘Give a day to the city’ community support in Carlisle, CFM Cash for Kids Christmas Appeal, Hug a Mug support service in Maryport and Christmas tree recycling with Hospice at Home. Image: The Cartmell Shepherd team at Oak Tree Animals’ Charity as part of the ‘Give a day to the city’ scheme in Carlisle.

When asked about why she chooses to engage in voluntary work, Terri said,I find volunteering very rewarding and being able to do this during work time is a huge plus for me and it plays a very important part in my role with Cartmell Shepherd.

“The local charities that we work with are genuinely so thankful and grateful for the time our team spends helping and it’s great to be able to give something back to our local community.”

Considerations to make before you offer ‘Volunteer time off’ as an employee benefit:

  • What amount of time would you allow employees to take off?
  • Would there be any requirements for volunteering activities, or could they choose their own non-profit activity or cause?
  • By what process could an employee get their request approved?

Creating a volunteer time off policy can be very helpful for employees, to set out any detail on the processes involved, including any limitations or restrictions which might apply.

Should you require any further advice or more information on volunteer time off options and policy creation, you can get in touch with Joanne directly via joanne.stronach@cartmells.co.uk or telephone 01228 516666.

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