Corporate Volunteering in the Age of the Coronavirus (Covid-19)
20 Mar 2020

Corporate Volunteering in the Age of the Coronavirus (Covid-19)

20 Mar 2020

Corporate Volunteering? Social Interaction? Really…?!

Yes. Now more than ever, the need for volunteering in the midst of this crisis is clear.

The last few weeks have been uncertain for everybody but it has been heartwarming to see the way our customers and other large corporates have pulled together in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many are quickly adapting their Employee Volunteering Policies to deploy in different and innovative ways to support both their employees and their communities.

At Thrive CSR, we have a unique oversight from our work assisting CSR Managers to track and report on their employee volunteering, so read on to find out what your company can do, and what you can learn from others….

(Of course, always pay attention to the government & health services’ advice and usual safeguarding steps with regards to your volunteering)

March 23 2020 Update: While government recommendations are changing daily this article is still relevant, even in a widespread lock down.

A Morale Boost for Home-bound or Socially Restricted Employees

At this stage it looks like significant social restrictions and the need to work from home will continue for some time – recent estimates in the UK put it at anywhere up to 6-9 months.

Thus during this time, it is important to focus on your employees’ mental health as the stresses from family health and economic worries build up. There are a number of things you can do here but volunteering is actually a key one to focus on. Multiple studies have shown that volunteering helps greatly in promoting positive mental health amongst participants.

Volunteering (of which there are several types, we will get to that shortly…) can provide a much needed break from this. It helps create and maintain human connections outside of the home. And it can also give them the sense of ‘doing more’.

Take Pride in Mobilising Your Employees in their Local Community

We need each other more than ever; however, Covid-19 provides a cruel juxtaposition – requiring significant social distancing at this time of increased human need.

Travel restrictions mean that national challenges now need to be addressed ‘hyper locally’.  Corporates are in a unique situation to empower their staff to play a key role within their local communities.

This is the time you can make a difference. Many corporations are altering their volunteering policies and options, away from well curated and pre-defined volunteering events towards a more fluid approach which will give staff the option to use their allowable volunteering time to assist in their local communities through self targeted staff volunteering. And to those of you who are, such as global law firm, Ashurst – we take our hats off to you all.

What New Volunteering Options Are Possible?

We have spent the last week working with our customers to understand the different types of community volunteering that are making a difference right now. Currently, it looks like three types of volunteering will be the most impactful in the months ahead:

1) Remote mentoring/teaching opportunities via Skype/Facetime/Google Hangouts etc.

Have your staff been working with groups of people (teaching, mentoring, buddy systems etc.) which could continue remotely? It’s quite possible this type of activity can still go on – providing a wonderful outlet to keep both volunteers and their benefactors engaged during this period, while still allowing complete social distancing.

2) Helping the isolated or vulnerable

The next few months are going to be incredibly tough on many people who have to isolate without constant company and assistance. As an individual you can offer your many services to local people without direct physical contact – print off a flier such as this one our own staff have been using and place it in the letterboxes of nearby house and highlight the jobs you are willing and able to perform, such as collecting groceries or even just daily a phone call.

Alternatively, another way for your staff to find vulnerable people to help locally is via established charities like Age UK.

3) Sole Volunteering with Community Aid Groups

Large volunteer gatherings are clearly off the agenda but helping vulnerable groups in their local community is still a possibility (as long as health & safety and safeguarding guidelines are met).
Mutual Aid and Community Groups are currently being established around the country, many of which have established Facebook groups.

Many of our flagship customers are encouraging staff actively get involved in these activities as part of their company Volunteering Leave and recording the results to share them with the whole company.

Make Sure You Capture Your Employee Volunteering & Recognise Individual Efforts

Having your staff out in the community during this problematic time is a noble goal but at the same time it is important to track what they are doing. HR/Health and Safety is one reason. The second is so you can follow the amazing work they are doing and feed that back into the organization (photos or short feedback snippets are great) to encourage more and more of your staff to get involved.

This is an outstanding way to start a ‘feedback loop’ where many staff see what early adopters are doing and that motivates them to do something impactful too. The sense of community and company pride this can produce is exceptional.

We’d love to hear how you are deploying your employee volunteers meet the current community crisis.  If you share these with us, we’ll pass the info around our network of CSR managers. Please reach out to me at [email protected]

Stay safe and we hope this helps!

Neil

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