The Many Ways that Volunteering Impacts Employee Wellbeing

Daniel Swersky

When people look back on 2022, they’ll likely remember it as the year that employees took back their voices. With trends like “quiet quitting” and the “Great Resignation” affecting much of the corporate landscape, businesses have been forced to take seriously how employee well-being can impact their bottom lines. With that in mind, Daniel Swersky explains that some teams have begun implementing volunteer opportunities through their companies.

While it may sound like added work, research has shown that volunteering can directly increase happiness and mental well-being. By encouraging employees to work together for the better good, rather than for the company’s profits, employers can help their teams bond and experience a shared sense of responsibility.

Creating a Space for Personal Passions within the Workplace

A global study conducted by Mercer in 2018 found that employees most desired three things from their careers—flexibility, purpose, and a focus on their well-being. Most people wanted to feel that their personal lives were not being eclipsed by their work lives; that they could continue to explore their interests and hobbies despite their careers.

In a post-COVID world, hybrid work settings have become a norm, allowing greater flexibility than ever before. Yet, many employees still feel that their companies lack a strong focus on purpose and well-being. Offering volunteer opportunities bridges that divide by introducing a chance for employees to bring their passions into the office.

So many people have personal interests and projects that they struggle to integrate with their corporate lives. Yet, by allowing employees to make volunteering a part of their jobs, companies can create a safe space for workers to express their true selves. This undoubtedly creates a sense of greater purpose in life and breaks down the tired expectations of a dry, sanitized office space.

Daniel Swersky

Volunteering Improves Mental Health

Researchers have explored the positive impacts of volunteering for several years, with one such study from the United Kingdom exploring its benefits for mental health. The study explored household data over a 20-year period, finding that those who had volunteered for an extended period were significantly happier than those who didn’t.

The exact mechanism for why this could be so isn’t yet clear, but it’s believed that the combination of social integration, greater purpose, and a sense of helping others helps to reduce feelings of depression and hopelessness. When applied to a business landscape, the same effects could help employees feel happier with their careers and more appreciated in life.

Likewise, volunteers have been found to have more confidence than non-volunteers, which can directly translate into better performance in the office. By taking on the role of a supportive member of society, volunteers often develop a sense of pride in their work that they carry into all aspects of life.

The Bottom Line

2022 was the year that Americans remembered to work to live, not live to work. With a renewed focus on employee wellbeing, companies are now embracing volunteer opportunities as a means to improve happiness and satisfaction for their staff. This could have a direct impact on how businesses operate and improve the overall corporate landscape.

Danny Swersky
Daniel Swersky