Challenge

Our challenge was to increase the value of our colleague volunteering programme, for both communities and the business.

We have had a volunteering programme since 2007. When we launched the programme, colleagues were allowed seven hours a year to volunteer through team-based activities.

While this work supported worthy causes, there was no real long-term engagement with local communities or any measurable impact. In addition, many colleagues felt that the volunteering activities did not suit their skills or interests. As a result, volunteering take-up stalled at around 25%.

Action

In 2015, we reviewed the programme and developed a purpose and strategy for it, which would benefit our communities, customers and colleagues.

The programme now focuses on three priorities:

  • improving employability and financial literacy
  • supporting people in vulnerable situations, and
  • helping communities to thrive and prosper.

We increased the volunteering allowance to 31 hours per colleague, with seven hours for a team activity and 24 hours to focus on skills sharing. All activity is linked to personal development plans, so colleagues can use existing skills or develop new ones, while fulfilling a community need.

We also created new activities, which fit with our colleagues’ working patterns and skill sets. Previously branch colleagues could not take part in team day activities. This is no longer an issue, because activities such as the financial education programmes and Silver Line partnership (see below) only need a short, regular time commitment.

Improving employability and financial literacy

In 2016, we launched Money Minds. These financial literacy programmes are delivered in schools by our colleagues, helping to plug a gap in the school curriculum.

Supporting people in vulnerable situations

Across the UK, more than 1 million older people go a month or more without seeing or speaking to anyone. In partnership with charity The Silver Line, which provides a helpline to tackle loneliness and isolation, a number of our colleagues make weekly friendship calls, using the skills they have developed through dealing with older customers.

Helping communities to thrive and prosper

We support local colleges and universities by offering student mentoring programmes. We also encourage our senior managers to become board members of charities, so they can share their valuable experience, leadership and practical skills.

Impact

All of our activities help to ensure we make a lasting, positive difference to our local communities.

Improving employability and financial literacy

In 2017, our colleagues delivered 251 Money Minds lessons to 7,267 pupils.

Pupil feedback has been enthusiastic, with 95% saying they enjoyed the session and 94% learning something new and feeling more confident about money.

One teacher said: “Money Minds is amazing. The children enjoyed the creative element of planning their dream party and really considered budgets. The session had a good range of activities to engage all and create a great buzz in the school.”

Supporting people in vulnerable situations

In 2017, our colleagues spent 589 hours talking to their Silver Line friends, making a significant difference:

  • 77% reported a reduction in isolation and loneliness, and
  • 70% felt their overall wellbeing had improved.

The programme is popular with colleagues, with one commenting: ‘It’s the most rewarding feeling ever. We get into full conversations about family and friends and what we both like to do in our spare time. Silver Line is a brilliant charity and it’s great to have the opportunity to make someone’s day every week.’

Helping communities to thrive and prosper

In 2017, 56% of our colleagues shared their skills by using their volunteering allowance to give 22,641 hours in support of 364 charities.

Colleague feedback post-volunteering showed that:

  • 86% of colleagues had improved their teamwork skills
  • 72% had enhanced their communication skills, and
  • 73% had an increased sense of wellbeing and job satisfaction.

One senior manager commented: ‘Being a trustee has enabled me to share my skills with a very worthwhile charity I really care about. It has also allowed me to expand my own experience and knowledge from a very specialist area to wider business management.’

Key lesson

Colleagues have a wealth of expertise that they are more than happy to share. Giving them the opportunity to do so, through befriending and mentoring schemes and offering their skills to causes that are important to them, results in engaged colleagues and a positive difference to the communities where our customers and colleagues live and work.