Learning to give, not just receive

by Human Capital25 Jan 2012

Benefits to staff

Community groups are not the only beneficiaries. The relationship is very much reciprocal.

“Staff go out into community organisations to transfer their skills, but it’s not just one way,” Howard explains. “Our philosophy is 70% of learning is done through experiential education or on the job training. Skilled volunteering is a perfect fit.”

Skilled volunteering offers both personal development and practical experience.

“It’s around awakening their social conscience. The volunteer program has given employees the opportunity to explore the challenges that other people have in our own communities,” Howard says.

HR plays a vital role in the development and integration of skilled volunteering to ensure these types of programs are a good cultural fit and fosters professional development. NAB’s people and culture department links skilled volunteering with the employee’s individual development plan (IDP).

“They’re getting an opportunity to increase their own skill set, [including] adaptive leadership skills, resilience skills, communication skills and understanding as they work in unfamiliar and challenging environments that could not be farther from the large corporate of NAB,” Howard says.

“Internally we assess our staff, as most organisations do annually. We have found that employees involved in CSR – and volunteering is a big part of that – are much more engaged than employees who have not participated.”

The program

Employees and community groups access the NAB volunteer program via a website. “It’s essentially like seek.com,” Howard says. “Community groups can fill out the online volunteering or skilled volunteering template and outline what kind of assistance they require.”

HR performs its due diligence to ensure the group are not-for-profit, have volunteer insurance and service a social need in the community. The team then posts the opportunity on NAB’s internal volunteer planner. Last year NAB advertised over 17,000 volunteer positions on the planner. Staff can then search for opportunities that best suit their interests and skills.

Think of it like applying for a job. Howard explains: “Say there is an opportunity to write a business plan for the next financial year and I had those skills. I would click on that opportunity and I would register my interest. Just because you register does not mean you are going to get the job.”

Because skilled volunteering requires a higher level of commitment it is crucial community groups are matched with volunteers who not only have the right skill set, but share the values of the organisation.

NAB staff are offered a minimum of 16 hours volunteer leave per year, but skilled volunteering can take much longer than 16 hours.

“Writing a communication strategy would take something like 40 hours,” Howard says. “But staff know that if a volunteer opportunity could potentially take 50 hours, and is in line with their IDP, they can sit down with their team leader and discuss workable options.”

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