New research from Pilotlight highlights the strong demand from the UK workforce for their employers to do more to support skills-based volunteering in the community, the huge potential positive impact this would have on charities and community groups as the cost-of-living crisis really begins to bite and the very real benefits for employers themselves as so many organisations struggle to recruit and retain the best talent.

The research, published today in a report called 'Give your culture a workout', includes new attitudinal research on the public support for employers to do more in this area and outlines the tangible benefits this would bring for the employers themselves.

In addition to the desire for employers to do more, 45% of adults would like to use the skills or knowledge they have developed at work to help out charities, good causes or community groups on a voluntary basis. If they were given the chance to do so, it would generate a potential £17 billion of skilled support.

Pilotlight, the pro bono charity, defines a ‘workout culture’ as one where employers build a stronger, more progressive culture by actively encouraging and supporting employees to use their time and skills to support charities and get involved in their community.

Ed Mayo, CEO of Pilotlight, says:

Work is changing. Now, the new patterns of work that people want are more porous, with learning, participation and purpose that goes beyond the predictable. In this context, there is a new dynamic emerging of ‘pro bono’ volunteering, in which people can use their skills in a charitable setting. In the post pandemic context, this is good for business.

We believe more and more employees are looking for a ‘workout culture’, one that actively supports them to get involved in causes and their community. From our experience we know this is a really powerful way to attract and retain the best employees.

According to the new report, the benefits for employers of a strong “workout culture” are: increased employee wellbeing; better staff retention and loyalty; better and stronger links with charities in their local community; a strengthened licence to operate in their sector or industry; increased attraction to potential employees; enhanced profile and reputation with clients, potential clients and other key stakeholders; and evidence of impact and commitment to increasing their sustainability, advancing their diversity, equity and inclusion and reaching their community engagement targets.

Angela Halliday, Director of Social Impact for Sodexo UK & Ireland, is urging employers to do more in this area:

We continuously give our culture a workout, recognising the need to evolve in order to progress, engage, retain and recruit talented colleagues in the belief that talent comes from all walks of life.

Our colleagues have undertaken pro bono volunteering through Pilotlight to help some charities doing vital work - generating lasting social impact and feeling tangible benefits across our business. I believe every business should be doing this.

In light of this new research, Pilotlight is issuing a rallying call for more employers to develop a stronger workout culture and understand its benefits in order to recruit and retain the country’s best talent and have a positive impact at the same time.

Sally Bailey, Chair of Trustees for Pilotlight, says:

In our post-pandemic context, what is new is not the fact that business can help charities. It is the recognition that charities can help business. Skills-based volunteering is good for both. Our research suggests that the practice is growing fast and has the potential one day to overtake charitable donations from business.

Give your culture a workout with Pilotlight

Pilotlight is a charity that helps people and charities to do more for their world. We do this by bringing charities together with business and business experts who can tackle the pressing issues charities are facing. 

So far, we have worked with around 1,000 charities. And since 1996 we’ve developed partnerships with over 180 of the UK’s top businesses including Barclays, Ipsos Mori, Lendlease, Morgan Stanley, Sodexo and KPMG.

For our pro bono volunteers, we call them Pilotlighters, supporting charities is a way to give back, but also a unique learning experience. The learning outcomes we track, for Pilotlighters and for charity leaders, include:

  • coaching and listening skills
  • understanding of different leadership styles
  • understanding of society and different sectors.