Wellness in Action: Giving Back for the Holidays

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How the “feel good” chemical reaction can be a morale boost for the holidays
Holidays naturally bring people together – a sense of giving, family and all-around good feelings generally rule the holiday season. Fundraising or volunteering organized at work can also promote a sense of community among employees during this time and build camaraderie.

Why does giving feel so good?
Many studies have shown that performing acts of kindness, either through the donation of money, goods or time, reduces stress levels and boosts life satisfaction.

STUDY ONE: Life satisfaction
Participants started by taking a life satisfaction survey Group A performed a daily act of kindness for 10 consecutive days Group B performed a new or novel act each day for 10 consecutive days Group C received no instructions

Groups A and B experienced a significant boost in happiness when taking the same life satisfaction survey 10 days later. Group C saw no change.
Study published in Journal of Social Psychology.
STUDY TWO: Stress reduction
Participants were asked to perform good deeds daily for nine days

Following the nine day period, stress levels were lowered both by self-report and other measures.
Study performed by University of Sussex’s Mindlab.
Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky of Stanford University attributes the mood boost to a sense by the good Samaritans that what they are doing matters. Further studies by Lyubomirsky found that those who felt their beneficiaries truly appreciated their good deeds felt the biggest mood boost.

Why should businesses promote giving?
Gallup reported that when employees are disengaged, businesses lose up to $300 billion annually due to lost productivity. Besides promoting wellness and a positive work environment, encouraging employees to participate in a holiday fundraising or volunteering program can help build morale among workers and give employees a sense of satisfaction only obtained through helping others.
In addition to nurturing employee happiness, campaigns can bring positive attention to your business. Whether your employees host a successful food drive or volunteer out in the community wearing company shirts, all giving activities command respect for your business and employees. Additionally, matching donations or certain donations made by businesses to a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit can be deducted from the company’s tax return.

The most important factor in organizing a holiday giving program – or at any time of the year – is to make sure employees are motivated to participate. An initial survey to find out what causes employees are interested in or connecting the program to an organization one or more employees have personal ties to is a good start.
Happy holidays and feel good by giving back!
Written by Leeann Garms