Paid Volunteering and the Employee Experience


Benefits to the business

Benefits to the employee

Social value

Paid volunteering: a benefit for all

Boost the employee experience with Sodexo Engage




When business leaders and HR managers sit down to think about how to boost their employee value proposition, conversations turn to the three pillars of wellbeing – financial, physical, and mental – and the employee benefits available. Whilst these form the basis of a robust wellbeing and retention strategy, other things matter to your employees that may not immediately spring to mind.

Three-quarters of employees (77%) believe that employers should be supportive of their staff taking time to volunteer.

When you're focused on mental health and supporting employees through the cost-of-living crisis, offering paid volunteering days as a benefit may not seem as important as something that may ease your employees’ burdens.

Indeed, if given a choice between a discount platform and paid volunteering days, in light of the current climate, financial savings may be the most popular choice. However, as part of your long-term retention and engagement strategies, paid employee volunteering is worthy of consideration.


Benefits to the Business


Monday, 5th December, was International Volunteer Day. Coordinated by UN Volunteers, it’s a time to recognise the tireless work, not just of UN Volunteers, but of volunteers across the globe.”

There’s no doubt that volunteering makes an impact locally and globally, but a business also benefits when it supports employee volunteering initiatives.

Sodexo partners with Pilotlight, an organisation linking business leaders with charities to help share knowledge and expertise. Through our partnership, Sodexo supported the creation of the ‘Give your culture a workout’ report, highlighting the benefits of offering employees paid volunteering days.  

79% of employees believe that businesses themselves benefit from employee volunteering.

According to the report, the business benefits include:

  • Better staff retention and loyalty
  • Increased attraction to potential employees

The report lists more benefits, but the two mentioned above are areas where a business can see a measurable return on investment.

Employee turnover hits a business’s bottom line, with research suggesting the actual cost of replacing a single employee is around £25,000. Furthermore, recent statistics show that the average time taken to hire a new employee is 12 to 16 weeks.

Depending on the situation surrounding a role becoming vacant, that could be 12 to 16 weeks when a position is unfilled, impacting productivity and putting additional pressure on the rest of your workforce.

Whilst offering employees paid volunteering days comes at a cost to the business, the benefits include increased employee retention and a speedier recruitment process – both of which save money.

Let’s not forget the importance of a positive workplace culture. 

According to Deloitte, over 90% of executives believe a strong and positive corporate culture is essential to success. Glassdoor also reports that 77% of job seekers consider a company’s culture before applying for a role.


Benefits to the Employee


Since it’s clear that employees are eager for the opportunity to have paid volunteering days, it goes without saying that offering them will boost employee wellbeing, morale, and engagement. Additionally, 82% of employees say that volunteering develops their work skills and knowledge, doubling as an employer benefit.

Businesses go through an extensive process to ensure they’re attracting the right talent, and from what we can see, you’re hiring good people! Out of the approx. six million employed people already using their workplace skills on a voluntary basis, a further 50% have expressed a wish to get involved in volunteering. 

We’ve seen this here at Sodexo, and this October, 35 of our employees contributed 105 paid business hours to volunteer at MK Foodbank, a charity local to our office in Milton Keynes.

“It’s three incredibly rewarding hours out of my day, and I’m grateful that Sodexo gives me the opportunity to do it. It’s humbling. It really puts life into perspective.” Emily Purkiss, Employee Experience Marketing Lead, Sodexo Engage


MK Foodbank Header CSR


Social Value

Sitting within your organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility agenda, Social Value is measured by the actions a business takes to minimise the impact it has on society and the steps taken to support the community in which it is based.

It sounds good, doesn’t it? Still, to make significant and continued improvements, commitment is necessary.

Social value is broken down into four pillars: people, places, planet, and partners, with work undertaken in each area. The key word here is ‘work’ because creating a Social Value Pledge and sticking to it requires buy-in across your entire business. Paid volunteering days are a great place to start because the success of any pledge is down to your people.

It’s so worth it.

Companies with solid and demonstratable social value credentials are far more attractive to buyers and partners, especially if your business works with the public sector. Companies that are familiar with competing for work in this sector will be aware that social value always comes up during the tendering process.


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Paid Volunteering: A Benefit for All

By breaking down this article into three areas and exploring each in-depth, we can determine that offering paid volunteering as an employee benefit does much more than boost your employee experience.

Whichever way we address the topic, there’s one common theme; whichever way you look at it, businesses benefit from offering employees paid volunteering opportunities.

We can summarise and support this position in three main points:

  1. Engaged employees are more productive and profitable
  2. Increased employee retention reduces recruitment costs
  3. Social value credentials are important to customers, partners, and stakeholders.

The CIPD has created a step-by-step guide for implementing a paid volunteering policy within your business, including links to other useful sources. They’ve also created a fact sheet with tips on making the most of paid volunteering within your company.


Boost the Employee Experience with Sodexo Engage


Sodexo Engage has been committed to boosting the employee experience for over 60 years, and this is just as important to us as delivering on our Social Value Pledge.

This article will have given you something to think about and an alternative view on boosting employee engagement by enabling your people to give their time to help those in need.

Speak with an engagement expert today for support on boosting your employee value proposition with our award-winning financial, physical, and mental wellbeing benefits.


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