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Healthy Workplace Month: Get Involved!

Monday October 22nd, 2018

Some of the most successful and well-known organizations have employee volunteer programs in place. Salesforce gives its employees 7 paid days of volunteer time each year to enable them to give back to their communities. Deloitte encourages its professionals to perform pro bono work, resulting in about 81,000 client service hours donated per year through more than 200 pro-bono projects. Microsoft’s employee giving program helped employees donate 700,000 volunteer hours in 2017, and the company matches employee donations.

What do these business giants know that the rest of us don’t? They’ve likely clued into all of the benefits of having a workplace volunteerism program. There are many great reasons to implement a philanthropic initiative at work. Many of them are related to talent acquisition and employee retention. Enabling employees to volunteer can improve job satisfaction and work-life balance, allowing employees to bridge their careers and their desire to make an impact.

Attracting talent and retaining employees are great goals on their own, but volunteerism also has a positive impact in other areas. As October is Healthy Workplace Month in Canada, we’re going to focus on some of the health benefits of volunteering.

Helping Others Improves Physical and Mental Well-being

Several studies have found that those engaged in charitable activity typically report experiencing a state of euphoria. This is known as “helper’s high,” and it is caused by endorphins in the brain that provide a mild version of a morphine high when you act charitably.

People who volunteer also report higher levels of self-confidence, happiness, and psychological well-being. Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that doing nice things for others significantly increases your positive mood and reduces social anxiety.

Similarly, a United Health Group study found that volunteering can help you manage and lower your stress levels. Volunteers also reported feeling physically healthier and more knowledgeable about their health.

Bridging Business and Philanthropy

So how do you introduce volunteerism to your organization? Salesforce, Deloitte and Microsoft provide some great examples, but they’ve had years to fine-tune their programs. If you’re just starting out, set yourself up for success by starting small. You don’t need a complex employee volunteer program to help your team members feel the positive effects of giving back.

Here are some ideas that are relatively easy to implement and manage:

  • Hold a fundraiser to collect donations for a charity of your employees’ choice.
    This could be as simple as hosting a bake sale! At Modu-Loc, our employees put together a calendar inspired by our VP of Operational Risk, Bill Matthews. Bill was a two-time Sunshine Boy, and we decided to pay homage to him in our calendar! The calendar was sold to employees and customers to benefit the Canadian Diabetes Association.
  • Host a food or clothing drive.
    This is possibly one of the easiest ways to give back as a group at work. Some charitable organizations even offer printable materials, so all you have to do is print and hang some posters and set a deadline for donations. If you have multiple branches, consider starting a contest to see which branch can collect the most donations!
  • Enroll a group of employees in a charity walk or bike ride.
    This is a great way to get active and build deeper connections with your colleagues, while giving back!
  • Give employees time off to volunteer.
    It may not be possible to offer 7 paid days each year, but consider giving employees some time off to support their communities. Even a few hours here and there can make a big difference.
  • Alternatively, allow employees to take on pro bono work.
    If you offer a service that could be useful to charitable organizations – whether it’s legal advice, website development, or some other professional skill – you might let employees commit a few hours of their time each week or month to doing pro bono work. Modu-Loc has been known to provide fence to charitable events for free or at a significant discount. It feels good to deploy your products and services to people who will use them to foster change!

Finding ways to volunteer and give back as an organization can help your employees feel more fulfilled, less stressed, and healthier overall. Volunteerism offers so many potential benefits to the volunteer (not to mention the recipient!), that it may just be one of easiest and most effective ways to improve the well-being of your workforce. Why not start your own philanthropic initiative for Healthy Workplace Month? Your employees and your community will thank you!

This blog post is part of our series for Healthy Workplace Month. If you missed the first post, you can find it here. For more information about Healthy Workplace Month, please visit healthyworkplacemonth.ca.

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