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A Corporate Give-Back Strategy Could Make Your Employees Healthier

The correlation between giving and health that no one tells you
By: Andrew Scott and Amanda McDonald
September 19th, 2017

Can you name one thing that has been shown to have a profound impact on one’s health?

If you’re like most people, images of exercise, dieting, and stress management came to mind. Giving is regularly forgotten.

When somebody thinks about how they can improve their health, very seldom does altruism come to mind.  Yet, there is extensive research looking at the desire to help others and how it impacts one’s health.

Simply put, giving is good for our health, and it is important to understand that the benefits of giving aren’t measured in a dollar amount or a physical gain.

What does matter is the sensitivity we offer to others.

The untold benefits of giving

Increased Happiness

Numerous studies out of Harvard, Princeton, and Yale have shown that people who practice altruism are rewarded with increased happiness and more optimistic views about life.

In fact, people who give are 43% more likely to describe themselves as “very happy” than non-givers, while non-givers are three and a half times more likely than givers to report they are “not happy at all”.

At the same time, opening your heart to other people, listening to them, and caring about them, gives you a chance to see the world from different perspective.

Many times, it gives you reasons to appreciate where you’re at in life and what you have. Ultimately, this creates a sense of happiness.

Higher Productivity Rates

In addition to happiness, productivity also increases.

Organizations that participate in philanthropy have seen employee productivity increase by 13%4.

Employees also report feeling healthier (76%) and in a better mood (94%) after volunteering5.

Enhanced Immunity

Simply thinking about helping others boosts immunity.

Case in point, a study from Harvard found that when individuals watch people helping others or think about the love they give to others their antibodies, a key part of the immune system, were elevated for an hour after the thought.

Furthermore, the positive feelings you gain from helping others strengthens your immunity by increasing your number of T-cells, which enhance your body’s ability to resist disease and recover quickly from illness.3

Reduced Cardiovascular Risk

Being generous with your attention can reduce your risk of having a heart attack.

Studies out of the University of California and Boston College show that patients with heart disease who volunteered their time saw a reduction in the severity of their symptoms, including decreased blood pressure.

And if that isn’t enough, this has also been proven to be true for people with chronic illnesses. Scientists believe this is due to the release of oxytocin and endorphins which stimulate the dilation of blood vessels.

Decreased Pain

People with chronic pain have reported decreased pain intensity and less disability and depression by 13%.  This is a result of the body’s release of endorphins that act as natural tranquilizers and painkillers.

Reduced Depression

Giving helps reduce depression as it preoccupies your thoughts so you are not fixed on your troubles.  Naturally, focusing on something good helps relieve you of bad thoughts.

Volunteering and giving back is a great way to avoid isolation since many volunteer opportunities include regular contact with others.

Moreover, giving also transfers energy that boosts endorphins (your happy hormones) that helps decreases adrenaline and cortisol, which are associated with stress.

Improved Overall Health

Multiple studies have revealed philanthropy has a positive impact on overall health.  The feeling of doing something good for others makes a life-long difference.

Consider the research from the University of Michigan. The findings report the benefits of generosity include improving one’s mental and physical health and promotes longevity1.

Another University of Michigan study followed 2,700 men over ten years and found that men who did regular volunteer work had death rates two-and-one-half times lower than men who didn’t2.

Above all, a person’s energy, sense of mastery over life, and self-esteem increase as a result of volunteering3.

Make altruism part of your life today!

How one person gives from another is different. Consequently, it is important to note that there are numerous ways to give.

Whether it is lending an ear, giving a hug, dropping some money in a bucket, donating time, money or goods, whatever way you can ‘give’ will benefit the recipient in multiple ways while also improving your health.

Moving forward, we encourage you to make it a point to slow down and focus on what you can do for others. Helping someone else find joy in their life can dramatically improve the quality of your life too!

  1. Brown, S.L. (2003). An altruistic reanalysis of the social support hypothesis: The health benefits of giving. New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising, 42.
  2. Luoh, M-C. & Herzog, R. (2002). Individual consequences of volunteer and paid work in old age: Health and mortality. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43(4).
  3. Post, S.G. (2009). It’s good to be good: Science says it’s so. Health Progress.
  4. Tonin, M. & Vlassopoulos, M. (2014). Corporate philanthropy and productivity: Evidence from an online real effort experiment. CESifo Working Papers, 4778. Retrieved from http://www.personal.soton.ac.uk/mv1u06/CP_WP.pdf
  5. Legacy Business Cultures. (2016). How corporate philanthropy programs lead to increased employee engagement. Legacy Business Cultures. Retrieved from http://legacycultures.com/corporate-philanthropy-programs-increase-employee-engagement/
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