Doing Good Is Good: How Volunteering Makes For a Healthier Workforce

Many companies have health and wellness programs in place for employees, whether it be through cash based wellness-incentives or physical programs like exercise classes, challenges, or health seminars, and this trend is on the rise.

According to a 2013 report from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health, 86 percent of employers offered wellness-based incentives to employees in 2013, up 29 percent from 2009.

It’s hugely positive that companies are emphasizing a focus on employee health and wellness, and what’s even better news? It’s likely many businesses have programs in place that they may not even know serve to keep their employees healthy!

Yes, doing good is good for you

Volunteering is one such program. A recent study by UnitedHealth Group examines the benefits of volunteering on an individual’s health, and the result? Doing good is good for you.

The 2013 survey involved a representative sample of adults across the country, the young, old, in good health and in poor health and recorded that people who volunteer feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally. Out of those surveyed who had volunteered in the last 12 months, 94 percent of people reported that volunteering improves their mood, 76 percent stated that volunteering has made them feel healthier, and 78 percent said that volunteering lowers their stress levels.

Additionally, volunteers are more likely than U.S. adults overall to report that they felt calm and peaceful most of the time, and that they had a lot more energy most of the time, over the past four weeks.

Employers should be able to directly see the value of employees’ volunteering, and by virtue of that, reap the benefits of having healthier employees.

Less stress, lower health care costs

Healthier employees reduce health care costs, and less stressed employees are likely to be more engaged and productive. With this in mind, businesses that support volunteering programs in their workplace are likely to experience even deeper benefits than organizations with employees who volunteer solely on their own prerogative.

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UnitedHealth Group reports that four out of five employed people who volunteered through their workplace in the past 12 months felt better about their employer because of the employer’s involvement in volunteer activities. Some 81 percent agreed that volunteering together (as a workplace) has strengthened relationships and collaboration among colleagues.

In the end, when it comes to health and wellness it may be true that nothing beats the basics of healthy eating and exercise. However, research shows us that there sure are many additional things we can do in our lives to promote healthy living, such as volunteering.

Consider that non-profit you’ve donated to, or find one that does work you admire; do they have a volunteer day you could check out?

And if you’re an employer looking to add some edge to the health and wellness programs in your company, consider showing some love to workplace volunteering programs!

This originally appeared on China Gorman’s blog at ChinaGorman.com.

China Gorman is a successful global business executive in the competitive Human Capital Management (HCM) sector. She is a sought-after consultant, speaker and writer bringing the CEO perspective to the challenges of building cultures of humanity for top performance and innovation, and strengthening the business impact of Human Resources.

Well known for her tenure as CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute, COO and interim CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and President of Lee Hecht Harrison, China works with HCM organizations all over the world to enhance their brands and their go-to-market strategies. Additionally, she serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Jobs for America’s Graduates as well as the Advisory Boards of Elevated Careers, the Workforce Institute at Kronos, and WorldBlu. Addtionally, she chairs the Globoforce WorkHuman Advisory Board and the Universum North America Board. China is the author of the popular blog Data Point Tuesday, and is published and frequently quoted in media properties like Fortune, TLNT, Huffington Post, Inc., Fast Company, U.S. News & World Report and many others.

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