Why Volunteering Is Good For The Workplace
I am a Rotarian and, like many members of service organizations, I joined not so I could serve, but so I could generate clients. While I have gotten business from my fellow Rotarians, the reason I remain in the organization is because I discovered that it feels good to give.
Of course, I’m not the first person to make this discovery. Winston Churchill supposedly said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Why is giving so great? Recent research has revealed that our brains get a boost of oxytocin (a hormone that lowers our stress and makes us feel more connected to others) when we give to others – even complete strangers.
If helping others is good for us as individuals, is it also good for organizations? Numerous articles say the answer is “yes.”
According to the article “10 Powerful Things You Didn’t Know About Employee Volunteering,” organizations benefit from allowing their employees to volunteer in philanthropic activities in a variety of ways: 1) Volunteering leads to healthier employees. Sixty-one percent of the respondents to a Robert Half survey said they believe that volunteering outside of work makes them healthier and happier, which makes them more effective on the job. 2) Volunteering encourages workplace friendships and teamwork. The article “Another Good Reason to Volunteer (and Encourage Your Employees to Volunteer),” cites people who say that volunteering with their co-workers fosters stronger relationships and helps them with their team-building skills. 3) Employees want to work for organizations that are community-minded. A UnitedHealth Group study found that four out of five people said they like their employer more when the employer is involved in volunteer activities.
One Bakersfield employer that understands the benefits of volunteering is Daniells Phillips Vaughan & Bock, CPAs and Advisors. According to Managing Partner Nancy Belton, “DPVB’s mission statement as well as core values address social responsibility and assisting our team members to achieve their maximum potential. These goals are nicely intertwined when the firm participates in community events as a team. We have been involved in a variety of activities related to charitable organizations over the years. One that we have made into an annual event is the assistance with food preparation at the Bakersfield Homeless Center. Each year on the Friday before Thanksgiving, the firm shuts down at noon and we all head over to the Center. We chop, slice, dice, and pull turkey meat off the bones all afternoon. It is a great feeling to know that we are helping people who are going through some rough times, and helping to provide them with a nice holiday meal. As a side benefit, we have a good time rubbing elbows (literally!) with our team members in an environment completely different than our normal work setting, and get to know each other on a personal level a little better. We believe it is a win-win situation for all, and each year we receive wonderful feedback from the team members on having the firm participate in this activity.”
If you’re now convinced that you need to start an employee volunteer program at your workplace, here are some tips from the article “How to Start an Employee Volunteer Program”: 1) Determine what employees are interested in and what the community needs. 2) Identify business goals that can be met through the program. 3) Ensure top management approves. 4) Develop some structure through policies about volunteering. 5) Volunteer where you’re already donating money to double your impact. 6) Assess the results of volunteering. 7) Recognize those who participate. 8). Publicize your volunteering efforts before and after events. One tip from me: ensure volunteering is voluntary.
Helping to make the world a better place is the right thing to do. Benefitting from our efforts is the world’s way of saying thank you.