COMPULSORY VOLUNTEERING DICHOTOMY
IN THEIR 2015 MANIFESTO THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY PLEDGED TO PASS A LAW REQUIRING PUBLIC SECTOR EMPLOYERS AND COMPANIES WITH MORE THAN 250 EMPLOYEES TO GIVE STAFF UP TO 3 PAID DAYS A YEAR FOR VOLUNTEERING. OF COURSE, NO GOVERNMENT WOULD MANDATE THAT ALL EMPLOYEES HAVE TO VOLUNTEER, THAT WOULD BE PREPOSTEROUS. BUT IS MANDATING THAT COMPANIES GIVE THEM THE OPPORTUNITY A GOOD IDEA?
Cabinet Office Minister Rob Wilson is right to say that the benefits of volunteering, through improved motivation and productivity, can far outweigh the potential costs. Enlightened organisations that already offer employer supported volunteering opportunities understand this. The Communities Secretary Eric Pickles takes a more pragmatic approach intimating that companies are likely to be encouraged rather than ‘forced’.
The value to communities comes from the quality of the volunteering, not the quantity. A flood of anxious HR, CSR or Communication directors looking for high volume volunteering opportunities will serve no one well. In our view the sensible option will be to sell the merits of employer supported volunteering and to make volunteering easier for companies to get involved. May be even incentivising volunteering. Making it attractive is better than making it compulsory.