Yorkshire Building Society is calling on the government to implement last year’s manifesto pledge to give employees of large companies up to three days’ leave to volunteer.
The Society has made the call at the beginning of Volunteers’ Week – which begins on 1 June – and celebrates the 21 million people who volunteer in the UK at least once a year and which contributes an estimated £23.9bn to the UK economy.*
Yorkshire Building Society believes there are significant benefits both to businesses and communities through employee volunteering and last year introduced a policy that allows colleagues to take up to 31 hours – the equivalent of more than four working days – of paid volunteering leave each year supporting a variety of different charities and good causes.
Chris Pilling, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Building Society said: “As Volunteers’ Week launches to celebrate the magnificent contribution of volunteers across the UK, we would urge the government to follow through on its election pledge to give employees of large companies up to three days’ leave to volunteer.
“We set up our colleague volunteering programme in 2007 and, recognising its impact we increased the time allowance from 14 hours paid leave up to 31 hours for each colleague last year.
“We will continue to invest in our volunteering programme and we would strongly encourage other businesses to do the same. Colleague volunteering not only benefits worthy community causes but acts as a way of meaningfully engaging and developing employees.”
The Society was named Business of the Year at the recent Third Sector Business Charity Awards 2016 after being chosen as the best example of a firm that “excelled in helping the wider community by embedding a culture of supporting charitable causes at all levels”.
To encourage colleagues to use their new 31-hour allowance, Yorkshire Building Society has launched specific skills-based volunteering programmes. These include supporting local schools with activities such as employability workshops, mentoring university students, supporting older people who may be affected by loneliness and providing more than 3,100 hours of support for Marie Curie.
Colleagues can also use their volunteering allowance to support their own chosen good causes.
Chris continued: “We know that our colleagues have a wealth of expertise and skills that they want to share with the people who can benefit most from them and we seek to provide that opportunity through strategic volunteering programmes organised by the Society and time to give pro-bono support to causes that are close to their hearts.
“Since then participation has increased significantly, from 25% of colleagues taking part in 2014 to 35% in 2015 and we are hoping to reach 40% this year. The number of volunteering hours donated rose to 11,800 in 2015, meaning it has more than doubled in the past three years.
“We estimate that the financial cost of our volunteering programme to the business last year was around £250,000 but this is far outweighed by the benefits to communities and also our colleagues, 64% of whom report a significant improvement in at least one key skill thanks to their volunteering activity.
“Meanwhile 75% of colleagues say their satisfaction and wellbeing at work has improved thanks to volunteering and 70% feel prouder to work for the Society.
“This helps to keep colleagues engaged and motivated, which supports retention as well as creating a positive workplace culture to aid recruitment.”
As well as the Business of the Year honour, the Society also won Employee Engagement Initiative of the Year at the Third Sector Business Charity Awards for its colleague volunteering programme.
CASE STUDY – SOCIETY WORKS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH YORKSHIRE SCHOOL TO HELP PUPILS MAKE THE GRADE
Yorkshire Building Society and The Southfield Grange Trust in Bradford entered a new three-year partnership in 2015 which is inspiring students’ creativity and boosting their job prospects.
The relationship forms part of Ahead Partnership’s Make the Grade network. Ahead Partnership are a social enterprise based in Leeds that connects businesses and communities to create social and economic change.
The Southfield Grange Trust oversees the running of two schools, Southfield School and Grange Technology College, and is located at its modern campus in Little Horton, Bradford.
Southfield School is a special school with around 220 students and 150 staff. Grange Technology College is a large secondary mainstream school with over 1800 students and 300 staff.
As part of the programme Louise Neill, Community Volunteering Manager for Yorkshire Building Society, became one of the newest governors at Grange Technology College.
Louise said: “I was very excited to be involved in the launch of this new partnership, and it seemed like a natural fit when the opportunity to become a Governor presented itself. It provides me with insights into the needs that the pupils may require for future employability-skills and to help shape the three-year Make the Grade programme so that it best benefits students.”
“Our colleagues have volunteered their time to run exciting workshops such as mentoring for students, CV building, debating competitions and interview sessions. We are proud of our Yorkshire roots and we want to help future generations contribute to the future success of our local communities.”
The Southfield Grange Trust is part of a wider Make the Grade network of businesses and schools across West and South Yorkshire. The network is equipping students with employability skills and careers information to help them succeed in working life.