Policy Report

From Big Society to the big organisation? The role of organisations in supporting employee volunteering

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From Big Society to the big organisation? The role of organisations in supporting employee volunteering

Published March 2015

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Ever since the Coalition Government launched its flagship policy idea of the ‘Big Society’, it has attracted criticism. And yet, while commentators may criticise the political ideology of a smaller state and question the fact that this equals a bigger society, many aspects of community-based volunteering and social solidarity transcend political ideologies. 

This is also reflected in the way organisations interact with their local community, with employer-supported volunteering programmes becoming more popular for a number of reasons. In particular the HR community has started to engage with this topic, as part of the wider employee engagement and learning and development agenda, as the link between skills development and volunteering becomes more established. 

In this paper we explore the current state of play of employee volunteering and the benefits this brings for organisations, society and volunteers themselves. We also examine the barriers to wider adaptation and implementation of these practices, arguing that it is in organisations’ own interest to play a more active role in promoting volunteering to their employees and to support them in their volunteer journey. This should be part of the toolbox for HR professionals in the future and we will touch on what the CIPD can do to encourage and support the HR community in taking this agenda forward. 

Content of the report 

  • Introduction 
  • The Big Society is dead, long live the Big Society 
  • Conclusion 

The CIPD runs its own volunteer mentoring programme, Steps Ahead Mentoring, which matches HR professionals with young job seekers to help them with their employability skills.