Reflections on my first six months at the League

Hello everyone, Natalie here! I have been working as the Communications and Campaigns Intern at the League Against Cruel Sports since September 2019, and thought that during this time working at home, there is an opportunity to reflect on what I have learnt in the past nine months. Prior to working at the League, I had a diverse background in animal welfare - from spending my school holidays working on an educational farm, to studying the behaviour of white-ruffed lemurs in the depths of the Madagascan rainforest.

After I graduated, I watched many of my classmates and friends from my home town make the inevitable move to London to begin their corporate jobs. I, however, wanted to continue working for a cause that I was passionate about, which benefits animals and the environment. I was then delighted when I was offered my position at the League, where I would be able to gain experience in communications and campaigns, whilst still working from the leafy Surrey countryside.

When I arrived at the League, I was blinded by corporate social responsibility strategies. Whilst my corporate counterparts in London were boasting about their Friday afternoon drinks at the office rooftop bar, I too found myself celebrating the incentives that the League offers. If I wasn't spending my lunch break attending a ‘bootcamp’ fitness class lead by our Director of Marketing and Fundraising, I was having in-depth discussions with the office book club, over a pub lunch. I dread to even think how many people I’ve boasted to about being able to bring my dog into work every day, due to our dog-friendly office policy.

Office dogs are one of the many benefits of working for the League – and definitely the most important!

What has become clear to me, however, is that these simple ‘workplace perks’ are no longer enough to retain staff in the long term. Instead, the younger and more ethically minded workforce of today looks to work for organisations that have social responsibility at their very core, and not just as superficial incentive packages.

A survey by Cone Communications in 2016 proved that these strategies are essential to the millennial generation of workers - who now make up the largest generational workforce in the UK. The study found that 75% of millennial employees would choose to work for a responsible company, even for less money. It also showed that millennial workers are engaging with CSR efforts, with 89% of respondents wanted to provide feedback, ideas and solutions to improve CSR efforts.

At the League, it is clear that our social responsibility measures were born from the inside out. As a charity with animal welfare and compassion at our heart, we have extended these values to how we treat and engage with our employees. Now, the level of investment in our staff shines through into the sheer amount of high-quality work we produce, despite being such a small organisation.

The League’s highly supportive work environment is exemplary and, here, I am offered far more benefits than any previous job I’ve had: flexible working arrangements; ongoing training opportunities for every member of staff; encouraging staff to take their full hour lunch break; extensive holiday benefits and multiple opportunities to feed back into the organisation. These strategies have all resulted in improved employee retention rates and in a sickness rate of just 1.2% in 2019 - lower than the private sector average of 1.7% and much lower than the public sector rate. It can be no surprise that with these strategies in place, the League has both been recognised as one of the best charities to work for, and in 2019 had one of its most successful years since it began.

The League has shown me, contrary to all my previous experiences, that all organisations - from large corporations to small non-profits - are capable of implementing meaningful and comprehensive social responsibility measures that both attract employees and retain them in the long-term. Now, during the coronavirus outbreak, whilst I feel incredibly supported by my employer, I am disheartened not to be spending every day in an office with such enthusiastic and passionate colleagues friends. I am very much looking forward to the day we can all be reunited over cup of tea in the kitchen, and I am excited to see how the current circumstances impressed upon the British workforce by COVID-19 might reinvent modern working arrangements moving forward.

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