For the people of UnitedHealth Group our business goals and social mission are entwined. To help build healthier communities, we believe it is necessary to be active and responsible citizens. Volunteerism plays a vital role in making this happens, leveraging our greatest asset – our people – in making a difference.
At UnitedHealth Group we invest in workplace volunteerism because it reflects the core values we hold as an organization, and is meaningful to our employees. Last year, 81 percent of our employees and 96 percent of executives volunteered in their local communities.
We’ve also invested in research demonstrating that volunteering is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. In our study with the Optum Institute, Doing Good is Good for You: 2013 Health and Volunteering Study, we found that people who volunteer feel better – physically, mentally and emotionally. And volunteers tell us that they are convinced their health is better because of the things they do when they volunteer. Doing good is good for you!
Volunteering makes a difference
People who volunteered in the past 12 months told us that volunteering has made them feel physically healthier. Add to that, volunteers are more likely than non-volunteers to consider themselves in excellent or very good health, and they are more likely to say that their health has improved over the past 12 months.
There is an even stronger connection between volunteering and mental/emotional health.
Volunteers give higher ratings than non-volunteers on nine well-established measures of emotional well-being including personal independence, capacity for rich interpersonal relationships, and overall satisfaction with life. Volunteering also improved their mood and self-esteem.
Volunteering can also help us manage stress—the majority of people who have volunteered in the past 12 months say that volunteering has lowered their stress levels. Volunteers also felt calm and peaceful most of the time over the past month which is much better than the population overall. And last but not least, most reported that they had a lot of energy most of the time, again, doing better than the average adult.
It’s true – volunteering makes us feel better. And while we’re feeling better, we’re also helping other people who benefit from our efforts feel better, too. Everybody wins.
Employers get healthier, too
Of course, if people are feeling healthier because they are volunteering, they will feel better at work as well. Healthier employees lead to lower health care costs and increased productivity. Employers find that volunteering employees are less stressed, more engaged, and are developing important work and “people” skills.
There’s more. Job skills and employee attitudes toward colleagues and employers are also enhanced, particularly for employers who actively enable and encourage volunteering among their employees.
Whether you are talking about functional job skills or interpersonal, team-building skills, volunteering provides an opportunity for employees to learn and develop skills that make them more proficient and effective in the workplace.
Volunteering supports healthier communities
Healthy communities play a vital role in the strength of our nation. And this only happens when everyone does what they can to play a role. Only when we all pull together will we be the best we can be.
Volunteering can help us do that. It’s a given that the hours and resources that individuals contribute through volunteer efforts make our communities better places. What this research shows is that there is a lot more to it: volunteering not only makes our communities better, it makes us feel better. The health and wellness benefits that volunteers reap are real and important.
It’s a win-win scenario that should be seized by individuals and businesses alike. Doing good is good for us. Good for our businesses. Good for our communities. And we’re all in it together. So let’s get to it!