It is generally accepted that volunteering is a good thing to do and a common method by which members of a society helps those most in need. But is it true volunteering also benefits the volunteer? UnitedHealth Group wanted to look into this phenomenon further so they decided to conduct a comprehensive survey and analysis on what effect volunteering has on an individual. Carol Simon and Kate Rubin from UnitedHealth led our recent Webinar, Doing Good is Good for You, relaying findings from their 2013 Health and Volunteering Study which supports the positive effects employees and employers receive from volunteering.
The survey UnitedHealth conducted used a nationwide sample of 3,351 volunteers and non-volunteers. Through this survey they found evidence to support the idea that when employees volunteered they felt less stressed, more engaged with their community and their own health, and an overall increase in their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The numbers were not only significant, as you can see from the sample below; they were also at times overwhelming:
- 75% of volunteers felt physically better after volunteering
- 94% of volunteers said volunteering improved their mood
- 78% of volunteers felt their stress levels go down
- 80% of volunteers felt they had more control over their health
- 64% of volunteers with a chronic disease felt volunteering helped to manage their illness
However, the positive effects don’t stop at health. Employee volunteers also responded that volunteer activities helped with their career because the act of volunteering improved their time management, interpersonal and professional job skills. Additionally, many respondents noted volunteering activities provided an important networking opportunity and improved the overall team morale. Based on this information employers actual realize a benefit from encouraging and facilitating the volunteer activities of their employees. Employers experienced lower healthcare costs, higher job productivity, and a reduction in turnover. The UnitedHealth team really wanted to drive home the point that corporate citizenship professionals should emphasize this study when trying to develop the business case for the work they are doing and in order to encourage greater participation. They recommend the following based on their survey:
- Increase promotion for your current volunteer programs…show employees the benefits they get from volunteering
- Grow skills-based training opportunities
- Tie your volunteer programs to any wellness activities or health benefits programs that your company already has in place
- Build the business case of growing your current initiatives and volunteer opportunities
To learn more about this study you can reference the webinar on-demand on our website or find the comprehensive report here.