How to deal with volunteering requests from employees

by | Jul 18, 2022

Responding to Commonwealth Games volunteering requests

Have you, as an employer or HR professional, received a request from an employee about volunteering at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) – set to take place in Birmingham from July until early August? Are you wondering how to do deal with this request? Perhaps it has sparked ideas or concerns relating to future volunteering requests?

This article aims to settle any angst that you may be experiencing over volunteering requests, and how allowing employees to volunteer in the CWG may actually prove beneficial to your business.

It is not often we find ourselves in a position where an impactful sporting event happens on our doorstep. In its history, the CWG has only been held in England twice before; never in Birmingham. Around 72 nations will be participating and over 5,000 athletes. Whilst the CWG are notably smaller than the 2012 Olympics, they are by no means insignificant and will be watched all over the globe. Not only this, but the level of investment into the West Midlands region in particular, including regeneration of sports venues and town centres alike, has given the region an extra competitive edge in attracting new business and tourism.

Employee representation amongst the volunteering workforce, when the CWG are set to leave such a great legacy on the region and country more widely, could lend your business great publicity and brand reputation. Although you should not represent yourself as an official partner of the Games, the casual conversations that your employees will be having with other volunteers, and potentially even athletes, is only going to spread an impressionable image of an employer minded to do good in its community. Plus, the skills that employees will develop throughout the process are going to be invaluable to their growth within your organisation; the ability to cooperate as a team and improved communication, comprising just two examples. What’s more, it could really assist in retaining and attracting talent within your organisation amid the ‘great resignation’, which is currently taking hold.

Research produced by CIPD in conjunction with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations found that individuals were more likely to work for an employer which supported volunteering activities. Another CIPD study found that the most prominent barrier to volunteering was ‘work commitments’. It is plain to see, then, that employers will need to engage with opportunities, such as the CWG, in order to reap the benefits of employee-volunteering.

So, how do you ensure that these benefits can be reaped? If you are a bigger business that has, before, accommodated similar requests, you may want to implement a formal structure through which employees can take a set amount of paid time throughout the year, to volunteer, during working hours. This would be great for your Corporate Social Responsibility agenda.

If you are a smaller business, or a business that has not before embraced volunteering opportunities, your best bet is accommodating any CWG volunteering requests on a one-off basis; assessing the impact that a particular employee’s volunteering commitments is likely to have on the business.

If you cannot accommodate all, or some, of the request, then it would be a case of explaining the reasons why and perhaps identifying a better period in the work diary, when volunteering could be accommodated.

Don’t forget that, whilst you may say no to the volunteering request, employees still have a right to ask for holiday and there are legal rules around the number of days’ notice you need to give in order to reject the request.

However, given the great brand reputation that volunteering for the CWG could have for your business, the part it could play in attracting and retaining talent, as well as the opportunity for employee development, we urge you to give serious consideration before completely rejecting a request to volunteer in the CWG.

We can help

For more support on how to respond to a volunteering request,  contact us.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

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