Volunteering: The Meaningful Path to Health and Wellness
Inside the mental, physical, & social benefits of doing good.
When considering whether to volunteer, it’s right that we ask “Where can I be of the most help?” instead of “What’s in it for me?” However, the Mayo Clinic reports that getting involved with your community can have many health benefits, which also shouldn’t be ignored.
This body of research is growing at a time when 63 percent of employees are looking to their employers for opportunities to incorporate purpose in their day-to-day work, and tech platforms are making it easier to find a variety of local volunteer opportunities. Perhaps another question we should be asking ourselves is: “How can I make doing good a part of my daily life, at work, at home, and in my community?”
Purpose-minded leaders can start answering this important question for themselves and their companies by thinking through some of the benefits of volunteering.
Volunteering can “counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety,” according to The National Alliance on Mental Illness. Those who struggle with anxiety or depression will find ways to engage on their own terms, and the sense of accomplishment they feel after an hour or two helping others will naturally give rise to greater autonomy and self-confidence.
Especially as we age, The National Institute of Health reports that “personally meaningful activities, such as volunteering” can have a strong positive impact on cognitive health, from long and short-term memory to a more general clarity of mind.
From cleaning up the local park to learning good nutrition from packing healthy meals for those in need, once we start thinking about the connection between our bodies and doing good, the ideas for unique volunteering opportunities will begin to flow.
The Mayo Clinic points to a longitudinal study of aging, which found that, “even when controlling for age, gender and physical health” volunteers live longer than non-volunteers because of their decreased risk of “heart disease, stroke, depression, anxiety and general illness.”
A HEALTHY SOCIAL LIFE
A dedicated time and place to practice social skills, find new friends, and nurture meaningful relationships in a low-pressure environment can offer the fresh start many people need to enrich their social lives.
“With communities facing new challenges every day with limited resources,” the National Recreation and Park Association says, “volunteering provides the manpower and local buy-in for real change to occur.”
HOW MANAGERS CAN HELP ALIGN VOLUNTEERISM, PURPOSE, AND CAREER
The myriad benefits of volunteering may push us to think about “purpose” the way we already think about “career.” That same ambition our employees feel when we talk with them about assuming greater responsibility in their field and influencing high-level company strategy can be melded with a firmer commitment to improve our communities.
Polled against their unfulfilled peers, employees who claim their purpose is fulfilled at work reported two-to-five times increased work and life outcomes. Looking ahead to the structural development of our departments, a more effective managerial approach would strive to create a culture where our employees want to talk about the causes that matter most to them and invite their colleagues to do good deeds.
The latest research from the healthcare industry and academia offers compelling insight into the mental, physical, and social health benefits of volunteering.
Purpose-driven companies are reporting 30 percent greater innovation. That’s why, at Deed, we’ve built a platform designed to engage your employees, improve reporting on your environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) progress, and give you the insight into your employees’ passion that you need to craft a winning social impact strategy.
If you’re looking to broaden your company’s approach to corporate social responsibility, you’ll need a platform that organically suffuses purpose throughout the workplace. Deed can help you meet your employees where they already are, from Slack to the office to the beach cleanup. We’ve helped top companies from Airbnb to Lemonade revolutionize their approach to CSR, and we want to help you, too. Get in touch today.