Volunteering Works and QBE Insurance

Sophie Wraith-Lee, QBE EO Foundation Adviser, talks to us about the benefits of employee volunteering.

Can you describe your role?

I am the QBE Foundation Adviser, at QBE Insurance and I manage QBE’s corporate charity the QBE Foundation, for the UK, Europe, Dubai and Canada. I’ve been at QBE for 16 years, and have been managing the day-to-day running of the Foundation for a little over 10 years.

What types of activities do we work with you on?

We’ve worked with Volunteering Works for a number of years now and they facilitate our employee volunteer days. Employees looking for volunteer days are signposted to Volunteering Works to advise their requirements for the volunteering opportunity and Volunteering Works research the best opportunity to meet that need. This could be skills-based volunteering – where our employees share some of the skills they have directly with a charity – for example, through finance, HR and leadership skills. Or practical volunteering opportunities like painting and decorating, clearing spaces, gardening etc. It can also be interactive volunteering such as volunteering in a day centre for the elderly, helping to facilitate a sports day in a school or working with college students on CV writing and interview skills.

 “Highly effective team bonding experience. Great to be able to help in a small way and the gratitude was just lovely and made the day extremely worthwhile.”  

QBE Employee volunteer

Why is employee volunteering important to QBE?

Employee volunteering is just one of the charitable initiatives employees can utilise through the QBE Foundation. It is used in various ways, whether that is a team-building exercise for a group of employees, or individuals coming together from various different departments within QBE. But the outcomes are always the same for both the benefitting charity, to receive support on tasks that would normally incur a cost for the charity, and for the employees, that sense of giving back to help others in local communities.

How does it benefit QBE?

Offering initiatives such as employee volunteering is important to our employees and those looking to join QBE. Not only does it allow employees to take paid leave to volunteer in local communities, but it also gives them that sense of achievement knowing they have helped others in need or helped contribute to a wider goal for the community. Employees look forward to taking part in volunteer days because it allows them the time to support charities in need, without encroaching on their personal lives, where employees may have an interest to do more, but cannot find the time. It also allows them to spend time with their colleagues outside of the office in a different environment from what they are used to.

 “As a new employee, this day was great for me to get to know my team outside of the office. I look forward to the next one!”

QBE employee volunteer

How does employee volunteering benefit your team? What do they say about it? What do they get out of it?

Employee volunteering gives our employees the chance to get away from their desks, spend time doing something different with their colleagues, and more importantly, make a difference to a local charity. We’ve received great feedback from our employees with 43% of them volunteering in our most successful year! Some of the feedback from our employees includes;

“Great place, run by some fabulous volunteers, makes me want to do something similar myself and give something back.” 

  “I had a brilliant day and I left with a feeling of extreme humbleness and admiration, along with a feeling of being extremely fortunate to have healthy children. The relationships the teachers have with their students was awe-inspiring, it was an absolute pleasure to help them even if only for a day.”

  “Once again it was genuinely humbling to see the good work that is carried out by the many charitable organisations, much of which by volunteers.”

How does it help people in the community? Why is this important to QBE’s workforce?

Whether it be sharing their (employees) knowledge and professional skills with the community or redecorating a communal space, many charities rely heavily on volunteers to help with tasks they cannot complete themselves or have no funding to pay someone to do for them. Either way, employees can be sure that their volunteering day will make a real difference in people’s lives. We have strong employee engagement at QBE which stems from helping charities in many ways through the QBE Foundation. Sharing our achievements amongst employees helps spread awareness and encourages employees to do more.

“Great place, run by some fabulous volunteers, makes me want to do something similar myself and give something back.” 


How does employee volunteering help with your CSR and demonstrate social value?

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​At QBE, our purpose is to enable a more resilient future – helping those around us build strength and embrace change to their advantage. As a global insurer with a footprint in 27 countries, our role in the community matters to our people, customers and stakeholders and we are uniquely placed to make a difference.

​​​​​​Our business centres around the mitigation and management of risk. Through the QBE Foundation, we want to improve the resilience and preparedness of our communities through long-term partnerships that will help people to help themselves, such as through education and raising awareness around risks so that people and communities are better equipped to protect themselves.

The QBE Foundation is creating strong, resilient and inclusive communities and employee volunteering helps us to contribute to this ambition by supporting charities to do just that, through various different volunteering activities. 

Would you recommend Volunteering Works to other organisations?

Absolutely! As I say we have worked with Volunteering Works for many years now and would not hesitate in recommending them to other corporate companies. They take away a lot of the stress when organising a team volunteer day for our employees with their simple registration process, knowledge and also the health and safety side of things too. They ensure that the volunteer team’s requirements are met and everyone is briefed before the volunteer day takes place to ensure a successful volunteer day for all.

Want to find out how we can help your organisation with employee volunteering? Get in touch today

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