A new study released today by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) and the Optum Institute finds that volunteering is linked to better physical, mental and emotional health.
Doing Good is Good for You: 2013 Health and Volunteering Study reveals that 76 percent of U.S. adults who volunteer report that volunteering has made them feel physically healthier, and 78 percent report that volunteering lowers their levels of stress, leading to feeling better than adults who do not volunteer. The study also illustrates that employers benefit from employees who volunteer in terms of better employee health and in professional-skills development that employees use in the workplace.
The study reveals four key benefits of volunteering that make a positive impact on people’s health:
- Health: volunteers say that they feel better – physically, mentally and emotionally;
- Stress: volunteering helps people manage and lower their stress levels;
- Purpose: volunteers feel a deeper connection to communities and to others;
- Engagement: volunteers are more informed health care consumers, and more engaged and involved in managing their health.
The study also shows that volunteering is good for employers:
- the health benefits volunteers enjoy also benefit the workplace – employers can expect lower health care costs and higher productivity from employees who volunteer;
- volunteers in the study report lower stress levels; other, established research shows that reducing employee stress contributes to higher productivity and levels of engagement;
- volunteering can develop employees’ work skills, which benefits employer and employee;
- volunteers report that volunteering helps them build teamwork and time-management skills; fosters stronger relationships with colleagues; and supports professional networking;
- volunteer activities lead to stronger positive feelings toward an employer when volunteer programs are supported in the workplace.