It may seem like a contradiction, but packing your staff off to go volunteering can actually make your workplace more productive, according to new research.
A UK study by volunteering charity CSV and Barclays bank has found that more than half of staff Ė 53 per cent Ė who give time to local communities through employee volunteering feel more productive in the workplace.
The poll of companies employing a total of 200,000 people also found volunteering helped with recruitment, retention, staff morale and absenteeism.
More than eight out of 10 employees said they would prefer to work for a company with an employee volunteering project over one that did not, with 88 per cent feeling staff morale had improved as a result.
A total of 18 per cent said they felt healthier and had fewer sick days as a result of volunteering through work Nearly a quarter felt they were less likely to leave a job where there was an employee volunteering scheme.
While more men (91 per cent) said they rather work for a company with an employee volunteering programme, than women (73 per cent), it was with women that volunteering had the biggest impact on productivity.
Just 43 per cent of men said employee volunteering made them feel more productive, compared with 60 per cent of women. Sixteen to 24-year-olds got the most out of employee volunteering, the survey added.
The survey has been carried out ahead of this year's CSV Make a Difference Day Campaign, which takes place on 29 October and encourages firms and employees to get involved in volunteering.
"The results of this survey are very encouraging," said Anna Gilmour, CSV Make a Difference Day campaign co-ordinator.
"Research shows that £11.6 billion is lost every year to absenteeism, and one of the common reasons for this is stress.
"If employee volunteering can produce happier, healthier and more productive staff then the saving to business could be enormous," she added. The survey was welcomed by the CBI. Bryan Cress, senior policy advisor at the employers' organisation said: "Many companies and the people they employ are quietly contributing to society and the environment.
"The survey shows that these firms find staff volunteering benefits not only the communities in which they are based, but also their own business," he added.