We all know that volunteering can be a rewarding endeavour on a personal level; donating your time and skills to the local community is an excellent way of boosting your growth and development. But volunteering also has many benefits from a business perspective too.
And while those who run an SME may feel that volunteering might not offer much in the way of development, this couldn't be further from the truth. From improving company image to increasing networking opportunities, we'll show you some of the ways giving others your time can be hugely valuable for small businesses.
Boosts the company's goodwill in the community
Volunteering increases your visibility in the local community, the benefits of which can be effective. Whether volunteering your business to other organisations or helping out in the local area, you're representing yourself and being seen in new places.
When you give back to your community, they might respond in kind by coming to you for business. And although making money shouldn't be the reason you're volunteering, there's always a chance you may see a business boost as a result of your efforts.
What's more, there are plenty of business awards in the UK who take note of businesses that give back and reward them sufficiently for their efforts. A company with plaudits to their name can be hugely attractive to prospective employees, partners and investors alike.
Provides an opportunity for networking
Volunteering puts you in front of different people you wouldn't have met otherwise. Whether it's other business leaders, local politicians or fellow entrepreneurs, there's a chance you'll meet someone who can benefit you or vice versa. Either way, you're providing yourself with an opportunity to improve your networking skills.
Although volunteering solely to network isn't something that’s recommended, there's no harm in engaging with someone if you feel they're a match for your company. If nothing else, volunteering shows you've worked hard. Even if these new connections don't result in any business leads, you've at least expanded your network, and you never know when that may pay off.
A chance to develop new skills
Volunteering to offer your expertise within the community is a good idea, but you can also use it as a means of learning a new skill or two as well. Sign up for something out of your comfort zone and see what benefits you can reap. For example, if you're not used to dealing with other people, then volunteering can help you become more accustomed to meeting new faces in public.
When you're back at your usual role, you may find that what you've learned during your volunteering has helped provide you with new approaches to dealing with familiar problems.
Improves staff productivity
Volunteering introduces your staff to a new schedule and routine. By shaking things up, volunteering helps to re-energise employees, producing a range of positive effects such as reduced stress, increased work satisfaction and greater creativity.
Put simply, helping others makes you feel good. When you feel better about yourself, the dopamine released by neurotransmitters in the brain increases your capacity to learn and boosts your mood, all of which can translate to greater staff productivity.
Strengthens company culture
As well as the increased capacity for learning and productivity your staff reap as a result of volunteering, they're also likely to feel more valued at work. As a business leader, it's important to maintain a strong company culture for a number of reasons, and employees who feel valued engage with their work.
It's important to show your appreciation for your team's passion and commitment to helping out in the community, as this helps to create a workforce that's happy and fulfilled – and has the added bonus of making it an attractive place to work for potential new recruits.
Better workplace relationships
If your workplace is a little on the formal side, then having the chance to work with others in a more informal environment lets colleagues get to know each other socially. Back at the workplace, this allows stronger relationships to flourish, as employees understand one another more and are in a better position to work together.
As a result of this mutual understanding, there's a respect and openness to other ideas, which means less conflict and a more bonded workforce.
Improves company image
As well as boosting the goodwill of an organisation, volunteering also has the knock-on effect of improving a company's image. If there are any partners or investors you'd like to work with, then your impressive humanitarian streak can be particularly beneficial in this regard – creating a positive company image that could lead to greater successes in the future.
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How can your business start volunteering?
There are all sorts of ways your small business can start volunteering, including the following:
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